Searching for brands that fit with WLLWPOPUP’s vision and aesthetic outlook haven’t been the easiest task. However I really enjoyed trawling through the WWW and discovering quite a number of amazing designers that I never knew existed before. That’s truly the beauty of having the world at our finger tips. Our eyes are wider and our hearts are made broader by the plethora of creative talents out there.
When I first encountered Aijek, my eyes were glued to the simple yet beautiful designs. Each piece exudes a special kind of freshness that’s quite rare in today’s ‘mass produce centric’ world. Conceived by self-taught Singaporean designer Danelle Woo who was then living in Shanghai in 2010, Aijek (which is Danelle’s Chinese name spelt in reverse) is the epitome of modern, effortless and timeless dressing. Great designs are incomplete without great workmanship to match. Every piece is individually handmade in limited quantities in factories that also manufacture for leading designer labels like Alexander Wang, Prada, Calvin Klein and Diane Von Furstenberg to name a few.
Whilst Aijek already has a strong following in the US, Singapore, Hong Kong, China and Taiwan, Danelle’s talent is still undiscovered in this part of the world. Proudly, WLLWPOPUP is the first Australian store to offer a wonderful slice of Aijek to you, in extremely limited pieces. This way you would naturally stand out without having to try hard at all. The pieces I stock are from her ‘Absence of time’ collection which was inspired by the Danelle’s own as well as her son’s childhood- kite flying, blowing bubbles and day dreaming under the clouds. Just like you would imagine, each piece is extremely lightweight, easy to wear and absolutely perfect for the busy lives we lead today.
Here is an interview that I did with Danelle herself. I could’ve summarised her answers into a couple of paragraphs to simplify things but I really want you lovely people out there to get a feel for the heart and brains behind Aijek. I promise it’s worth your time and patience.
#1. Tell me about the Aijek woman, how does she dress and behave? Effortless and comfortable in her own skin.
#2. You were previously a PR director for a US agency. What made you take the risk to start Aijek? I loved fashion since a young age. I would cut up my mum’s jeans, reverse it and make it into a jacket. I entered retail at 16 selling Herve Ledger dresses, Ghost dresses made from wood pulp and Isabel Marant. I wanted to offer easy-to-wear effortless designer pieces, using high quality fabrics, and make them accessible to people. About 3 years ago I took a big risk, gave up my job in PR, followed my heart and started Aijek.
#3. What are some of the unforeseen challenges that you faced as a self-taught fashion designer and what advice would you give to budding designers out there? It takes hard work, creativity and a true passion to create something precious in your designs. To me, success means every moment when someone recognises that extra effort Aijek puts in to achieve that. I think you have to be willing to make mistakes and not let them get to you. A lot of times I had to start over and over again. But being determined and loving what I do helped me to stay focused on the reason that I decided to do this in the first place.
#4. What are your preferred materials to work with and why? Given a choice, I always try to work with natural fabrics that are renewable and durable. For my debut collection, 70% of the 34-piece collection is made using natural fiber. Even the trims on Aijek’s hang tags are made of 100% viscose, made from natural plant cellulose! Silk is my signature fabric, alongside with cotton, tencel, rayon and viscose. Silk as a natural fiber is renewable, durable and biodegradable. Tencel, rayon and viscose are renewable, natural fibres made from plant cellulose. They are comfortable next to the skin and age beautifully– aspects which are the essence of the Aijek brand.
#5. What are some of the things that never fail to inspire you? Real women.
#6. Tell us a bit about the Chinese fashion scene. How is it different from the West? Chinese women are getting more sophisticated with higher expectations than before. They understand quality and are looking for simpler designs that are modern but not over the top. I think about the occasions when customers would wear my clothes when designing the collection. Many of the pieces are versatile enough to be worn with flats in the day, but could also transit into something glamorous for the night. This is an important factor as connecting and socialising is a big part for the modern women. The Chinese women today are so much more experimental. They are willing to try different looks, buy brands they have never heard, as long as they serve to express their individuality. In that sense I do believe the difference between fashion in China and the West are closing up.
#7. You have released 3 S/S collections. Do you have plans to release any A/W collections in the future? Most definitely, we are launching AW14 in Las Vegas early this year.
#8. Who are your style icons and what do you admire about them? Sofia Coppola, Giovanna Battaglia… and of course the real women we meet everyday.
#9. Do you read any fashion blogs at all? If so which blogs fall in your ‘daily reads’ category? Honestly no. I read more bedtime stories for my 5-year-old than blogs.
#10. What is the most treasured item in your wardrobe? Since 3 years ago, my most treasured items are what I made myself. I wear what I designed and that makes me feel really special about what I do.
#11. Being originally from Singapore, what do you miss most about that country? Strange to speak, I have just moved back home to Singapore a month ago. After 15 years of travelling around, being back home made me realise how much I missed my family and friends (and the local food of course ).
#12. How do you find juggling work and motherhood at the same time? The key to staying sane is good help!
#13. Could you reveal (if possible) a little bit about your next collection? What should we get excited about? Lace has always been an ongoing signature of Aijek. We’ll be taking it a step further in our new collection with embroidery on silk and lace motifs on flowy silk chiffons.
So go on and bathe your senses with Aijek‘s exquisite pieces. What are you waiting for?