Many believe that fashion takes itself far too seriously and while they’d often be correct, it’s not always the case. A sense of humor is a fundamental part of London-born, Shanghai-based label STAFFONLY’s philosophy and when its founders Shimo Zhou and Une Yea were asked by Vogue where they draw inspiration, they replied, “Always from the stupid daily life, often from BBC documentaries, sometimes from the bathtub.”
But it wasn’t just their self-awareness and humor that made them a fit for a place in MINI FASHION’s fourth collaborative collection this year. Titled “Field Notes,” the collection’s 2018 theme explores travel, transformation, and memories. Those chosen for the project were tasked with referring to personal experiences of trips to foreign cities and weaving their individual stories into the garments they created. Exploration, open-mindedness, and curiosity are concepts core to STAFFONLY’s target audience. “A STAFFONLY man always has an abundance of curiosity and a sense of humor, and he is willing to break the boundaries and to explore the unknown era of the world," Zhou and Yea explain.
Sabine Ringel, Creative Lead MINI FASHION
Traveling for us amounts to more than just stepping over physical borders, going from A to B; it’s about our experiences and the blurring of the lines between feelings, cultures, and perspectives.
Shimo Zhou and Une Yea started contemporary menswear brand STAFFONLY in 2015 following their graduation. Growing up in the Chinese cities of Shenzhen and Beijing respectively, both moved to London to study. Zhou graduated with a BA in womenswear from the London College of Fashion before receiving a distinction degree in MA menswear in 2015. The same year, having previously graduated from Tsinghua University in China, Yea received an MA degree in accessory design from the Royal College of Art, London.
The pair’s signature approach to design involves unexpected and experimental materials, colors, and silhouettes, all of which they’ve flirted with since the debut of their first collection in 2015.
This year, MINI FASHION partnered with The Woolmark Company and together they selected some of the most exciting emerging names in fashion to present their capsule collections at Pitti Uomo 94 in Florence. Alongside STAFFONLY, Liam Hodges, PH5, and Rike Feurstein (some of whom are International Woolmark Prize alumni) reflected upon their own experiences of travel, interpreting their memories through innovative use of colors, forms, and materials — particularly Merino wool.
Sabine Ringel, Creative Lead MINI FASHION
Collaborating with young design talents is a way to bring together different perspectives, ideas and inspiration in order to create something fresh and exciting. Even though we have a clear stance and view on design and fashion, the collaborations allow us to explore different facets of our approach and discover new directions.
STAFFONLY viewed the Field Notes concept through a London lens. Both Zhou and Yea recall being heavily influenced by their time in London but returned in particular to their time spent finding headspace and escape in Greenwich Park. Memories of the lush green landscape and dreamy blue skies interspersed with cloud reflect in the capsule collection’s core color palette which is used across a coat, shirt, and patchwork jeans. Zhou and Yea also created a matching duffle bag for the urban traveler to pack away the outfit and stay on the move, further exploring ideas around travel and adding an element of utility to their work.
Shimo Zhou and Une Yea, STAFFONLY Founders
Greenwich is the home of time. It’s an idyllic, almost magical place with a wonderful view over London. It’s the perfect place to escape the city on the spur of the moment. The greenness, the scent of freshly cut grass, Earl Grey tea, and scones remind us of the special times we spent there.
MINI first partnered with Pitti Immagine in January 2015 and the MINI FASHION project has been a part of the bi-annual Pitti Uomo trade fair ever since. Each season, a new theme is selected to highlight emerging and sometimes unconventional fashion labels while presenting innovative ideas and trends in design. Past MINI FASHION designers include Agi and Sam, Edwina Hörl, SANKUANZ, Yushan Li and Jun Zhou of Pronounce, and Diego Vanassibara.
We got our hands on the STAFFONLY Field Notes collection to shoot our own in-house lookbook, check it out across the page and be sure to follow STAFFONLY on Instagram to keep up with their progress. For more information on the project, visit the link below or check out our recap from Pitti Uomo 94.