Designing the Elly CNY 2015 collection
Posted on January 05 2015
One of the things we love about Chinese New Year is that we get to design our own fabric prints for the collection. It's one of the more enjoyable parts of our work but also sometimes one of the most challenging. You need to think of so many different things - what our customers will like (both parents and kids!), what we like, how to be original, how to be appropriate for this year, and most importantly, how to keep to the spirit of what Elly is all about.
In mid-2014 when Carol and I were brainstorming the designs for CNY 2015, we decided that we wanted to go back to how Elly started - chic, comfortable, timeless and yet original. So we deliberately steered clear of animals, horses or otherwise, or anything too cliche and overused. Instead, we chose to play around with various geometric designs, simple patterns and shapes, and finally, the first set of fabrics we decided on was Japanese oriental fans. The shape of the fans are simple, and yet when sewn into a cheongsam, they look sophisticated and chic. We printed them in three colours this year - red, a more pastel blue and fuchsia so mommies can mix and match sibling sets!
One of the things we like best about the Japanese oriental fans is that it really brings out the detail of the exquisite jade buttons. Those of you who have been shopping with us for a while will remember these buttons from our 2013 collection. They were such a favourite amongst our customers that we decided to bring them back this year! It just adds that extra special touch to the season, don't you think?
Of course many of our customers also love the fact that we always go beyond the simple and classic, and do something that is really different and uniquely Elly. We are so happy to have two of these special prints this year. The first print is our take on swallows and clouds. We wanted something pretty but still striking. The CNY red of the swallows really pops when set against the turquoise clouds and the colour combination makes this print something you can wear not just during CNY but after CNY as well. The best thing is that it's a print both boys and girls can wear (you'll see what we mean when you see the pictures of this shirt tomorrow! Lil J totally rocked the shirt!)!
This year, we also decided that we wanted to do more with the fabrics that we designed apart from the clothes. Besides cheongsams, we have used the same prints to create little handbags (to collect red packets or ang paos) in two sizes - a smaller one for the little ones below 3 years and one for the bigger girls for serious ang pao collecting! They even have the same matching jade buttons and cute tassels to complete your child's CNY outfit!
Then we decided to take it one step further by making something for mummies too. But instead of making matching cheongsams for moms, we wanted something more subtle so we thought - clutches! Carol typically has an "ang pao" bag which she brings along when visiting our relatives and friends during Chinese New Year so we thought moms would find a clutch very useful plus they could match their children at the same time! Something similar as their kids' but not the same!
Some of you might have noticed in the photo above that there is one last print that we designed this year. For us, it's really the print that carries the whole collection. It's a print that is trademark Elly - innovative, fun, chic and now for the first time, entirely Singaporean.
The inspiration for this came about when we thought about our theme for the year and the Japanese fans (or oriental fans) by themselves didn't provide a strong enough theme for the whole CNY collection. This year is of course Singapore's 50th birthday or SG50. So we wanted to do something that celebrated this milestone. We wanted something unique that would be meaningful to both parents and kids, that stood for what Singapore is about, and also what Elly is about. We thought, what better way than to use memories from our childhood?
So we sent our designer pictures and links to pictures which represented elements of our childhood in Singapore and she came up with graphical representations of each icon!
Some of the links and pictures included the iconic pelican playground which I climbed up on near my Grandma's home in Marine Parade, the dragon playground (although to be honest, I can't remember where the dragon playgrounds were located when we were growing up), the heavy merry-go-round which all kids at the playground had to push really really hard and run alongside and then jump on when there was enough momentum to keep it turning (and which my husband lost a tooth or two falling off!!!), a see-saw (which actually I hate sitting on at the playground cos it makes my stomach lurch every time the see saw hits the ground), hopscotch drawings, a vintage SBS bus (I remember we used to get paper tickets with holes punched in them from the conductor and we had to press this long strip of a button located near the exit door if we wanted the bus to stop) and the housing estates we live in. (We even added a lantern lamp-post and trees just for colour!) … And our fabric designer worked her magic again!
If you look carefully, you will find that we managed to put every element into the final fabric. We couldn't be more pleased with the result and so this is our signature fabric for our CNY 2015 collection - Home.
In addition to the fabrics that we designed ourselves for this year, we also have three additional designs for the girls and one specially for the boys. The thing about designing your own fabrics is that no matter how much sampling you do, you can never be fully certain of how the printing will turn out. So when we went to production with one factory, things went wrong (as they always do) and we almost wanted to give up printing entirely. We hurriedly scouted around for "backup" fabrics just in case we didn't make the printing and production timelines with a new factory cos we were really running out of time. We found a cool red truck fabric just for the boys and three other fabrics for the girls (Edit: We also made the lantern prints in the mandarin-collared shirt design!). Thankfully, the printing came through for us but we decided to add the four fabrics to our collection anyway!!
The colourful print on the left is called Monet Melody and it is the collaboration print with Our Bitsy Print which launched a matching cheongsam in the same fabric for mommies back in November 2014!
So why is this collection called Home?
Yes, it is partly to celebrate Singapore's 50th birthday. But it is also because it is what Elly is about. We started Elly as a family and that is what we still are. Back in 2010 whilst I was working in London, Elly was sold online through a third party website, Pupsik Studio (whom I'll always be grateful took a chance on us whilst we were such a young and inexperienced brand). When I moved back to Singapore at the end of 2010, Carol and I decided to bring Elly to the fairs for a whole year in 2011 before we decided we could open a store at Cluny Court in February 2012 and have our own online store. Before we barely settled down with Elly, we opened our second store, Twelve by Elly, in July 2013 and Lil E was born in March 2014 so the past 18 months have been nothing short of a rollar coaster ride. But we've been so blessed with a wonderful family - our parents, aunty and both our husbands who would step in to help us move stock, set up my stock room, price tag our clothing (especially ahead of our annual clearance sale), do all sorts of "sai kang", do our accounts and admin PLUS baby sit the girls whenever the four of us have to work at the store. It hasn't always been easy - there have been fights and tears for sure but they were good fights because it's helped us grow as a small company and as a family. As Elly grew, our staff have also become part of our extended Elly family, whether it is to chip in to help their co-workers out and take on extra shifts when they don't have to, or celebrate special moments with us. Our extended Elly family has grown even further. Almost all our models this year have been part of our store in some way or other from the beginning - their moms have been blogging for us for the past few years or have been shopping with us since we met them at the fairs, or the children themselves have been our models since 2011 when they were wee little ones, and we are very grateful for everything (both big and small) that all of you have done in some way to support us and to help us grow Elly these past couple of years.
So that's why this year, our 2015 CNY collection is called Home - our Home in Singapore, our Home at Elly. We have never been more proud of a collection and we hope you like it as much as we do. This is Home, truly.
*These gorgeous photos were taken by The Studio Loft.