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Designer Spotlight: Embracing an Ethos of Fashion Sustainability with Maison Wu

With design principles firmly rooted in fashion sustainability, it makes perfect sense that homegrown fashion label, Maison Wu, joins us as a brand partner in our Sustainability Alliance! We had a chat with the co-founders (and sisters!) of the brand, Liz and Dom, to find out more about their design philosophy, sustainability tips, and more.

Hi Liz and Dom! Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! Could you tell us more about how you got started in fashion, and what inspired you both to start your own fashion brand? 

Liz: Furthering my interest in fashion, I decided to pursue a course in fashion merchandising. I learned practical skills from analyzing textiles and material sourcing, to drafting and sewing, to designing and presenting a fashion collection. While working on a business plan around sustainable fashion value chain, the idea behind Maison Wu was conceived. And I knew just the right partner to approach.

Dom: Around the time when I was 14, I was watching fashion catwalk shows on TV and got really interested. I started reading fashion books and sketching my own designs. At that time, I did not think I would take this interest beyond a hobby. When Liz approached me about starting a fashion label together, I did not hesitate much, to be honest.

Dom & Liz: 

We saw a void in well-fitted yet comfortable, versatile yet well-designed, functional yet beautiful clothing that Asian women can look chic and feel relaxed in, so we decided to launch Maison Wu.

At Maison Wu, sustainable design is very much ingrained in your brand. Could you tell us more about your design process, and how it is sustainable?

Liz: Resonating an ethos of sustainability and timeless fashion, our design processes reflect modern sensibility through marrying aesthetics and functionality with sustainable fashion consumerism.

We base our designs on a capsule wardrobe principle where each design is timeless and can be paired with most of your current wardrobe, and acts as a go-to staple that you can wear many times over.

Each fabric and haberdashery are consciously handpicked to ensure quality and sustainability. We source fabrics, haberdashery and packaging mainly from the local community as it helps reduce our carbon footprint. Currently, close to 70% of our collections are made from dead stocks and end-of-roll fabrics. We believe using such fabrics has a significantly reduced environmental impact, even more so than using virgin fabrics. 

Our capsule collections are also launched in small quantities, averaging 20 pieces per design, to avoid unsought production. And more importantly, it also maintains the uniqueness and quality for our customers. 

What is it like as a budding fashion label in the Singapore fashion landscape? Are there any challenges or opportunities that you’ve encountered? 

Liz: Our vision is to plant our seed as a homegrown sustainable fashion design and styling label, grow into an international brand, expand our business from clothing to accessories, to jewellery, and be able to provide support and employment for women as we grow fashionably, ethically and sustainably. 

We faced many challenges starting up; when COVID-19 hit, our garment manufacturer had to stop operation and production was brought to a halt. Our launch was delayed for months but it’s all looking very positive for us now as everyday life is getting back to normal. Like the collaboration with Style Theory, we are excited to be able to reach more customers in the region.

Give us a sneak peek into your creative process as you start designing a new collection!

Dom: The creative process of designing each piece varies. It could start from a beautiful textile and we reimagine the garment forms it could take. Or taking inspiration from fashion books, blogs and style muses. Once we have enough material, we will build a theme board and start on the detailed sketches.

Our designs focus on relaxed tailoring and subtle details that flatter most body shapes; Skirts and pants with a mid to high waist and midi to maxi tapered lengths create curves and an elongated profile, while shirts and dresses with a more structured shoulder line and streamlined bust-to-waist proportions give a sharp yet sensual outline.

In any case, we ask ourselves these questions whenever we review a design: ‘Is the design timeless? Will I be able to wear this piece for many years? Is the design versatile? Can I create many different outfits with this piece? Can I wear it for different occasions? Is the design comfortable to wear? Do I feel amazing wearing it?’

What is one piece in your collections that you hold closest to your heart? Is there a story behind it? 

Dom: Unanimously, it has to be our Classic Blue Maxi Shirt Dress! It can be styled in so many ways from desk-to-dinner, casual to celebratory, chic to statement. 

Who are your style muses when designing for Maison Wu?

Dom: We focus on creating the timeless, versatile wardrobe for the modern-day woman.

We’re inspired by the quintessential ‘French Wardrobe Philosophy’, so our design seeks understated sophistication unfazed by trends and undefined by age. Our ensembles are thoughtfully designed and artfully crafted for the woman today; confident, creative and contemporary — and who seeks capsule essentials of unassuming versatility and elegance, in minimalist classics with fuss-free comfort.

If you could describe the aesthetics of Maison Wu’s pieces with 3 adjectives, what would they be?

Dom: Maison Wu as a womenswear label, has so many influences from fashion, lifestyle and our environment. Rather than aesthetics, I would talk about the essences of the brand – Our philosophy is Capsule. Our design is Timeless. Our process is Sustainable.

We’re proud to partner with Maison Wu through our Sustainability Alliance. What does this partnership mean to Maison Wu?

Liz: Partnering with Style Theory resonates with our ethos of sustainable fashion consumerism.

For those dipping into a sustainable lifestyle for the first time, do you have any sustainable habits that you already do and would recommend to them?

Liz: We recommend you start with a capsule wardrobe – it saves time, money, space and also the environment. Next, you can start to make more eco-conscious decisions while you’re out shopping. Lastly, take care of your garments – it’ll help them last longer and save them from being prematurely discarded from your wardrobe.

Rent Maison Wu styles with a Style Theory Membership! With the Style Theory Apparel Rental Membership, you get to rent from a collection of 40,000+ apparel pieces, with plans starting from S$79/mth. Download the app and create a free account to explore the Infinite Wardrobe now.

About Author

In pure Aries fashion, Nicolette’s passions reveal themselves in fiery bursts — tell that to her 4-year-old flugelhorn still in mint condition. If she isn’t DM-ing you memes from private Instagram accounts, she’s probably snuggled up to a sitcom. A huge admirer of the harmonious coexistence between the style sensibilities and atrocities of the ‘90s. Yin and yang, baby.

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