The first thing that popped into my head when I heard the name Skylence was ‘’The sky’s the limit.’’ This sure seems to be true for Chinese designer Skylence Tianmo Zheng. Her stunning designs are heavily influenced by her Chinese heritage, have been featured in British Vogue, Tatler magazine and have been shown on the catwalks of London Fashion Week.
Skylence, tell us a bit about yourself and your brand.
I am a creative entrepreneur and fashion designer based in London and the founder of my eponymous women’s wear brand Skylence.
Skylence combines the clean lines of modern European design with traditional Chinese cultural and historical details, and produce beautiful pieces for modern, cosmopolitan and professional woman. We like to think of it as ‘Cultured Attire’. Apart from this, I am also a director of a creative advertising company based in South London.
What sparked your interest in fashion and in starting your own label?
Fashion and art have always been my favourite hobbies since a very young age. I loved dressing up when I was a little girl. After I started university in
England, we always wore fancy dresses when we went out to party, and this made me dream of having my own fashion brand one day. However, the journey of starting my own brand didn’t begin until several years later.
After completing my Masters degree at London School of Economics in 2014, I started working for a media and advertising company in London. I quickly realised it wasn’t the place for me as the working culture was really toxic and that really had an effect on my motivation and the productivity of my work. After working there for a year, I moved back to China. I dabbed in a few different fields of work such as international education, technology and even an online magazine, but none of them were satisfying.
Those two years in China really helped me open my eyes. I figured I needed to follow my dreams; designing fashion. It was exactly during those two years in China that I reconnected with my life long passion. I started by designing clothes for myself as a trial, and later in 2017 I opened an online shop in China which became a success. In 2018 I moved back to the UK together with all my designs, newly gained techniques and most importantly; vision and ambition!
Did you study fashion or are you self-taught?
During the summer of 2018 I did a short course at the London College of Fashion in 2018, apart from that I have never studied anything fashion related. Luckily I happen to be naturally talented in painting and art! I studied painting for six years when in primary school. That’s why I am now able to come up with many different designs in my head. Believe it or not, I get a lot of designs in my dreams, when I’m sleeping at night!
One of the designs that came to me in my dreams, is now one of our most successful designs: the Lily Tea Dress.
How have your designs evolved since you started your label?
Fashion started as a hobby for me. As a result, when starting to creating my own designs, I tended to make designs which would I personally would enjoy. Later on I realised that designs can carry some personal characteristics from me as the designer, but more importantly, the designs need to be commercial enough to appeal to the public as well. Creating good designs come down to combining your personal tastes and aesthetics with a business mindset. This way it allows you to create beautiful yet timeless fashion, meanwhile giving them unique value.
Where are your roots and do influences from your roots find their way into your designs?
My roots are from China, so my designs are hugely inspired by Chinese history and culture. My designs are a combination of East and West. Having lived in the UK for quite a few years, that too found its way to be integrated into my designs. The combination of the both forms a timeless modern style, infused with traditional Chinese craft and detailing.
Does culture have an influence on your designs, and how?
Our designs adopt a simple, elegant and sophisticated silhouette
synonymous with timeless Western style. These are then adorned with
intricate detailing: from embroidery to woven patterns and trims, from handmade button knots to silk, all of which are inspired by traditional Chinese art and culture. Rich colours and print patterns taken from China’s heritage enrich each garment, every one of them telling a story of Chinese history from which we then take inspiration for the title of the piece.
As a designer, there has always been a fascination with women’s classic styles over the course of history. From the European Medieval Times, the Renaissance and early Twentieth Century as well as traditional cultural wear from the Han, Tang and Qing dynasties in Chinese history. All of this has fed into the brand’s aesthetic, inspired our designs and craftsmanship to embrace both cultural attributes and modern fashion concepts. I have always been most fascinated by the point at which fashion, culture and history intersect.
The creative arts have an important role in society. As a fashion designer, how would you define your role in society?
We are always trying our best to create positive fashion. We are aiming to be sustainable in the creation of our designs, from the source of our fabrics to production and to the finish of each garment. We design to tell a story, empower women in their everyday lives and deliver an immaculate, premium experience. Next to that we work by a higher purpose that stems from my Christian faith: By creating our designs and thereby working with suppliers, models, photographers and customers, we aim to transform lives and workplaces as well as generate a positive impact on the lives of individuals involved in the process of working with our brand.
Do you think fashion needs to convey a message? If yes, what
message are you trying to communicate with your designs?
As touched on earlier, we design to tell a story to empower women in their everyday lives. Modern femininity is at the heart of what we do as a company with an inherent message of faith, hope and love. The Skylence woman is vibrant, distinctive, creative and devoted. Through our clothing we encourage this woman to use her power, vision and strength to create good in the world and to look chic whilst doing so.
Is it possible to realise any design you imagine, or do you always keep
wearability in mind?
So far I have been able to turn most of my imagined designs into reality. Usually it gets sketched first, whilst also keeping wearability and practicality in mind. After finishing the sketch, I hand it over to my production team and they will get to work and produce the real garment. We always make sure all of our products are Read-To-Wear.
Is there an aspect of the fashion industry that you would like to
The fashion industry needs to treat models in a better way. I myself used to work as a model when in my student days. However, I encountered some very disrespectful treatment. We need to treat models in a fair way, as a lot of models are very young. They should be respected and treated as young professionals, rather than an item that wears your designs and you can judge and treat however you like. Because of my own past negative experiences, it is important to remind myself, as well as the people I work with, to treat all of the models that we work with in a right way.
Do you have a current fascination that finds its way into your
My current and eternal fascination comes from heaven. God provides all the fascination and inspirations for me. A lot of my designs and sketches came to me in my prayers to God.
What advice would you give starting designers?
First of all, you need to define your Brand DNA; who you are, what you want and how you want it. Be authentic and be coherent in what you are creating. Next to that, do your research before you start. Research on your potential customer demographic, your competitors, the different pricings, locations where you want to be etc. Then identify your market.
And lastly, get the right people and talents around you. It is important to realise one can’t complete everything on their own. Make sure to keep an eye out for potential talent and experts in your life and get them into your network. Bring out different people’s unique talents and work towards one common goal — this is the key to success.
Do you have a motto or quote you’d like to share with our readers?
Yes, a motto from the Bible. ‘She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.’ Proverbs 31:25. This is also the motto for our brand.
As a creative it is often hard to admit that you can not create everything on your own. Oftentimes it is quite a scary thought to give your ideas and concepts out of hand or take feedback and advice from others. But Skylence’s impressive progress over the past years is a beautiful example of how working together with talented people who share your vision, will create stunning results.
It is important to realise you don’t have to be good at every aspect of the realisation of your creations. As a creative it is your job to be your best at translating your visions dreams into a real and tangible creation. Muster the courage to let other talented people help you with what they are good at, be a leader and a visionary, so that together you can make your dreams real.
Want to see more of Skylence’s breathtaking designs? Make sure to visit Skylence’s instagram and webshop downbelow!