2017 May
Farewell to Old-world Cheongsams

In the film “In the Mood for Love”, the female protagonist Su Li-zhen lulls the audience into reverie with her graceful movements in cheongsam. Post-80 fashion designer, model and fashion show curator Grace Choi has launched trendy cheongsam brand Yi-Ming to celebrate this traditional expression of beauty. Her creations blend oriental charm with youth vogue.


Revitalizing the old-world cheongsam

Aformer model, Choi started her own fashion brand in 2011. With new releases out regularly, she has gone from online store to brick and mortar this year.


“Just think about it. Why do people in other countries value their traditional costumes so much?” For example, she says, it is easy to find people in kimono in the streets of Japan whereas the Chinese cheongsam is getting buried by the times.


New age and new materials

Many modern women are discouraged by the figure-hugging cheongsam, worrying that it will reveal imperfections of their bodies. She addresses this issue by selecting special materials to suit individual silhouettes. Her creations are designed with classic cheongsam collars but the bodices highlight the fluidity of modern fashion.


Noting that a tailor-made cheongsam easily takes three to six months to complete and often carries a hefty price tag, Choi has handpicked a range of stretch fabrics so that it does not have to be made to measure. Customers can try it on in the shop and take it home right away. This is in rhythm with the fast-paced lifestyle of the younger generation and she hopes to make cheongsams popular again with this novel design concept.


Winning the favor of local companies

As for marketing, Choi makes her products to order and also sells them in fashion boutiques and department stores on consignment. She had a pop-up store at Yue Hwa Chinese Products Emporium. Response was so good the store proposed permanent partnership to attract young customers.


Her brand is now engaged in different forms of cooperation with a number of local companies. One such example is Mira Moon, a boutique hotel of Miramar Group. She was commissioned to design cheongsam uniforms for its staff. She came up with two designs for day and night respectively. These cheongsams have created a unique image for Mira Moon that stands out in the hospitality industry.


Showcasing Chinese chic with new technology

Advances in 3D printing have presented new possibilities. Choi is employing the latest garment-making technologies in her cheongsams while using stylish and abstract floral patterns. These floral patterns are unique in that they are based on photographs of flowers she took in different parts of the world. Attractive patterns are then designed and printed on fabrics with 3D technology.


With social media fast becoming part of everyday life, Choi is making good use of online sales platforms. She offers one-on-one sales service that enables direct chat between customers and sales consultants. To promote the brand, she has set up pages on Facebook and Instagram and uploads product images and catalogs to save publicity cost. She says to promote products online effectively one needs to master various techniques. For example, adding hashtags to posts can boost follower traffic.


With only a small team, this startup has overcome the obstacle of limited resources on the strength of social media. Online platforms have also helped her brand to take off from Hong Kong to get into the international market. She has attracted many of her customers in the western world through these channels. As a keen promoter of Eastern culture, Choi has great joy seeing our heritage blossoming in Europe and America.