Success story – Yang Yingying
Ms Yang is a distinguished contemporary artist and founder of the globally respected TUYUE fashion brand. Mrs Yang’s work is pioneering and she champions sustainability in all her creations. When starting out, Ms Yang wanted to make a brand that carried her own aesthetic values but she hadn’t fully appreciated the positive impact that she could have on the fashion industry. Fast forward fourteen years and her brand has evolved considerably and her pioneering work has been recognised with Ms. Yang receiving the Guangdong Top Ten Designers Award in 2020. Mrs Yang works closely with ACTAsia after joining the Fur Free Retailer Scheme in 2021 and supporting our Compassion in Fashion Forum in 2022.
What makes the TUYUE brand different and sustainable?
The TUYUE brand mission is to not overproduce so as to avoid negative impacts on the environment and Ms Yang has insisted on the efficient use of every inch of fabric. In 2018, TUYUE started to invite its customers to join their campaign ‘making old clothes for new’, re-cutting recycled clothes into pieces and creating new objects or even artworks. Ms Yang’s delicate pieces of art with innovative materials – that would have otherwise been thrown away – redefine what waste actually is thereby heralding a new meaning to the word ‘recycling’. TUYUE not only considers the impact of waste and the importance of recycling but she is a staunch fur free campaigner within the fashion world.
ACTAsia welcomed TUYUE as a Fur Free Designer at our 7th International Fur Free Fashion Festival in Chongqing
ACTAsia’s 7th Festival in Chongqing attracted over 100 attendees to the Forum, over 3,700 people streaming live, and 4,500 viewing the recorded forum. Co-hosted by John Lau from the London College of Fashion, ACTAsia welcomed a range of highly experienced speakers, including the Department of International Trade at the British Consulate, fashion, the British Standard Institute, and talented young Chinese fashion designers.
At the event, ACTAsia was delighted to welcome young talented designers to join the Fur Free Retailers Scheme (FFR) which included TUYUE. These designers are examples of young, exciting, driven, Generation Z designers all aspiring to sustainable fashion and who have chosen to take the fur free path. They are ground breaking in their work and inspire others, leading the way towards change in the fashion industry.
The Fur Free Retailer (FFR) Scheme in China currently includes more than 70 brands and retailers within the scheme – joining an international network of over 1500 luxury and everyday brands that consumers want to wear. These brands have stepped forward to make the commitment to be fur free and offer consumers a compassionate choice.
What inspired TUYUE to become a sustainable designer brand?
As Ms Yang explains: “I was actually clueless at the beginning of the brand. As I was doing it, I started to think about the meaning of what I was doing, what it brings to me, what it brings to others and importantly what does it bring to society? As we all know, fashion is changing very quickly and it is very difficult to be environmentally friendly in the fashion industry. I think what I can do now is to try to reduce the burden on the planet.
The first time I felt guilty was when I found out that the factory had to hire a car to take dozens of sacks of trimmings to the landfill every month. So, I found someone to contact some of the neighbouring factories that made Barbie clothes and sent them to them for free. However, a few years ago they no longer needed the offcuts and the responsibility of disposing of the trimmings fell back on me which gave me a very bad conscience. So, our creative team suggested making some designs specifically from the trimmings. Our first attempt was to make a bag called “Made with Conscience” as a customer feedback gift for the festive season. The feedback was so good that we went on to make other small practical items such as hair ties and eye masks. Through this process, I realised that what I normally see as ‘junk’ actually carries meaning. It has a story, and if used, it carries a core that is more powerful than the ordinary finished product.
Every December, we play a game of ‘Exchange old clothes for new ones’ with our customers. The idea is that the customer can trade us a piece of TUYUE that they no longer wear, and a short story about it, for a new piece of clothing. The customer trades the item but for me, the story is more powerful than anything else. We sort the clothes and stories we receive and put them in the storage room, but we haven’t decided what to do with them yet. Maybe we’ll end up with a piece that’s all about the story.”
How is TUYUE promoting Fur Free?
Ms Yang states that having ‘fur free’ stance as a designer is not difficult: “Animal fur is very cruel, so I’ve never thought about diving into this category. Nor will I in the future. From my point of view, everything is a parasite on earth, and TUYUE’s Spring/Summer 2022 show, ‘After Tomorrow’, also focuses on the theme of ‘existence’, discussing the relationship between the individual and the world, and expressing the fact that humans are only one part of the universe. Human beings are parasites in this world and have to develop, but only with minimal interference with other species”.
How and why is ACTAsia promoting fur free in conjunction with TUYUE?
Globally, the fur free movement may have started with ethical reasons due to animal suffering. However, we are now facing the unstoppable climate crisis and the COVID pandemic crisis. The feed and keeping of fur farmed animals are the two main contributing factors impacting climate change. Producing feed for the millions of animals kept for fur comes with a severe ecological footprint and fur farming directly contributes towards climate change. Energy is also consumed at every stage of fur production. This is in addition to the energy costs of transporting the animal pelts and finished fur garments around the globe, throughout all the stages of the fur industry.
ACTAsia has long promoted the move to go fur free and especially in China given its place as the world’s biggest national producer and consumer of fur. As fur farms have been closing in Europe, China’s industry has alarmingly strengthened, as international partnerships take advantage of unregulated production and high profits. In addition, the relevant regulations related to fur farming in China are much less stringent than in Europe and North America – which have provided another advantage for foreign investment and migration of business to China.
ACTAsia and TUYUE’s work together
TUYUE admits that it takes time for consumers to accept change and understand the importance of being sustainable and ecologically aware. By working closely with ACTAsia and our drive towards sustainability, zero-waste and sustainability, TUYUE is pioneering change from the heart of the production line. She is influencing consumers and manufacturers and ACTAsia is proud to promote her work and her mission. TUYUE is grateful for ACTAsia’s support and guidance and hopes that by working together that we can continue to affect a demonstrable shift in spending patterns and consumer thought processes.