A conversation with CONNECTIONSy designer, Shang Yang
Shanghai-born designer, Shang Yang started his own brand CONNECTIONSy last year. Having graduated from Shanghai's Donghua University for his BA and from Domus Academy in Milan for his MA, Shang has experience in both the eastern and western approach to fashion. Meeting Shang Yang at the God Save the Food cafe on Via Tortona, the heart of Milan's fashion district, I got to see the designer in his natural habitat. Full of excitement and passion, Shang spoke to me about his most recent collection and his dreams for his brand's future, which include being sold "by 20 to 25 stockists worldwide, a fashion show in Milan or Paris and over a million sales". Here to speak about what got him involved in fashion and his recent collection Aurora, is a conversation with Shang Yang.
How did you get into fashion?
I grew up in Shanghai and my father was involved in a fashion company when I was young. He was involved with fabrics, and then left to focus on art. He is now a well-known painter in China. This allowed me to be surrounded by a lot of artists growing up.
What’s one of your favorite designs from your own collection?
Look 18 (below), it is also one of our most popular pieces and was featured on Vogue Italia.
You studied Fashion design in Shanghai for you BA and then came to Milan to study your masters at Domus Academy, how would you say fashion education differs between these two cities?
In Shanghai we don’t have too many majors in fashion. They just see fashion as one big subject; we don't have divisions like fashion marketing, menswear, womenswear, etc. The degree allows you to learn a little bit about each part of fashion, but not in depth. However, here in Milan at the Domus Academy, my degree was a lot more specialised and only focused on womenswear.
So do you prefer Milan in terms of education?
I would say in Shanghai it was more academic and I learned more about the basic skills like painting. But in Milan, we usually work with fashion brands and have collaborations, it is a much more practical way of teaching. However, in class I did notice that some students who had studied fashion in Europe for their undergrad did not even know how to use photoshop, whereas every student who graduated in fashion in China has learned this. So I would say both education styles are excellent in different ways.
How did you come up with the name Connectionsy?
In Chinese philosophy, one of the most important concept is the connection people form between each other. Then, as my first name is Shang and my surname is Yang, I added the first letters 'SY' to the end.
Tell me about your newest collection, Spring '18. What were you inspired by?
Tromso, Norway. It is one of the most northern cities in the world. I visited it three years ago for the Christmas holidays. Northern Europe is such a different world, people are so nice and everything feels so pure. It is very clean, you feel like your soul is being cleansed. I also went to see the Northern Lights, which was so beautiful. For my previous collection, I was inspired by Barcelona. I like to be inspired by a city for each of my collections.
Do you only do womenswear or also menswear?
I want to focus on womenswear, but I don’t mind doing editorial stuff with men. I like how womenswear looks on a male's body. The contraction is trendy.
Most difficult part?
Two things have been most difficult. Firstly, the finances. You need to fund your collection so you either need to get money from an investor, family or yourself. Secondly, before you start a brand you need to build a strong network. I am living in Milan and am finding it difficult to meet the right people, PR, etc.
I travel a lot, once a month minimum. I have been to 20 countries and get inspiration from the people I meet and their stories. That's why I. like to travel.
Whats one of your favorite places?
New York. Their culture is so mixed, you don’t feel like you are a stranger there, you can find so many different people.
If you could have any celebrity wear your pieces, who would you want it to be?
I would say Lady Gaga because she usually wears avant garde clothes. And even though I am not necessarily designing avant garde clothes, her style and concept is very strong and she also supports the LGBT community, which is why I want her to wear my clothes.
What can we expect from the CONNECTIONSy brand in the next five years?
I am a dreamer, my zodiac sign is a pisces after all. Firstly, I want 20 to 25 stockists worldwide, a fashion show in Milan or Paris and over a million sales.