A short interview with Renli Su, designer of the eponymous label, discussing her inspirations, her design process and which pieces of her collection she can't live without.
What is your definition of luxury?
Wearable and practical garments in timeless styles that last beyond the season. I find when you use the highest quality fabrics and traditions you reach a new kind of luxury.
Which are your favourite fabrics?
Fabric is hugely important to me, so my collections are made up of fabrics that I love and that have a story / tradition behind them derived from different corners of the world. Chinese Summer Fabric, Indian Hand Woven Cotton, Indian Block Print Organic Cotton and Irish Innovative Cotton Linen underpin everything I do as I love the mix of intricate yet wearable and practical fabric types.
My designs use only organic fabrics with an emphasis on traditional skills and handmade techniques and craftsmanship using “Summer Fabric” (a traditional Chinese linen made mainly from ramie) plain woven by skillful craftsmen, hand-dyed block printed organic cotton from India and an innovative cotton and linen blend from Ireland. By offering these conceptual yet practical garments made by hand in workshops across the world I aim to combine tradition with modern innovation.
Summer Fabric (Xia Bu) is a plain weave linen made mainly from the best quality ramie. These time honored Chinese handicraft techniques are now under treat in our modern society where traditional industries are declining. Renli Su designs champion this technique handed down through the generations.
Indian hand woven cotton fabrics The blue and white stripes in this season are hand woven using traditional handlooms in India. All of the designs using this fabric can also be supplied with red stripe or yellow stripe alternatives. Indian craftsmen preserve the heritage of the traditional dyeing process by using roots, petals, vegetables and other plant matter to create their dyes. All of the materials and process comply with international organic fabric standards – GOTS ( Global Organic Textile Standard )
Indian Block Print Organic Cotton Block printing is an ancient Indian printing technique. “The workshop only offers sustainable organic textile, which adheres to Renli SU’s core value of handmade and organic fabric the designer introduced. The process of block printing uses a hand crafted wooden block stamp to press organic dye patterns on to the fabric with their hands with great artistry. There is no way that a machine can replicate this unique craftsmanship.
Irish innovative Cotton linen The Irish linen industry has supplied high quality traditional linen since the late 19th century. The workshop that RENLI SU has collaborated with is renowned for its beautiful quality cottons. Their experienced technology team and designers work together to create exemplary organic fabrics. In this seasons collection two of these fabrics are combined with traditional fabrics to create a distinct feminine aesthetic.
What inspires you when you create collections?
“Time & Memory” is a key inspiration throughout the construction of my collections. This idea is shown mainly though the manufacturing methods chosen. Edges of fabrics were loosened naturally, whilst hand stitching is used in order to present the natural power of clothe-making. Yarn-dyed woven fabrics are significant and an organic colour scheme is used to emphasize the concept. The new season proposes a style based on wearable and practical garments, hoping to create timeless styles that last beyond the season. My designs incorporate the highest quality fabrics and traditions using chequered block print, jacquard weave cotton and oriental fine lace, giving garments a comfort and simplicity in design.
Is the fabric and print the starting point with your designs?
I travel and come across the fabrics and then my inspiration follows as there is always a story attached that interests me and gives me the initial inspiration.
Do you have a style mantra?
Quality fabrics will always flatter and look feminine.
Is travel important to you in terms of inspiring your designs?
I find my inspiration though travel and culture, I think the more you see of people and their traditions the more you can put into your designs.
What are your favourite places to visit?
Tibet - I love the culture and people.
What is your definition of style?
Comfort and simplicity in design
Finally, which are the key timeless pieces in your SS15 collection?
The pieces I can’t live without for SS15 are my Indian block print coat (pictured below) and wide leg tassel trousers.