Interview: Chinese culture inspires designer in creating uniforms for major U.S. airline

Source: Xinhua| 2019-02-28 22:36:22|Editor: zh
Video PlayerClose

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- "Everything I do is influenced by my Chinese background," said Luly Yang, when asked about the cultural elements in her latest project with U.S. Alaska Airlines Wednesday.

She was chosen in 2016 to redesign the uniforms for the 18,000 employees of the fifth largest airline company in the United States.

"There's one dress I did for Alaska, which has a little collar that comes up a little bit, which has the Chinese collar feel," said Yang in an interview with Xinhua on Wednesday in San Francisco.

The 90-piece collection, which has been more than two years in the making, is expected to debut onboard Alaska's flights later this year or in early 2020.

She has incorporated a standing collar, also known as a mandarin collar, and the characteristics of a "qipao," a traditional Chinese body-hugging dress, into the new design.

What she called "East-West influence" can be seen not only in the Alaska Airlines uniforms, but also her own collections.

Born in China's Taiwan, Yang immigrated with her parents to Seattle, Washington, when she was in fifth grade. Brought up in a traditional Chinese family, her father hoped that she would follow the career path of a lawyer, or a financier.

But Yang always had a passion for fashion design, even after she graduated from the University of Washington and landed a job at a big firm as a graphic designer.

In 1999, Yang participated in a fashion show and made her reputation with her signature "butterfly" gown. Calling it her "first born," Yang said it is "iconic" and still her "top favorite."

Yang opened her first studio boutique in downtown Seattle in 2000. Today, she is an internationally-known designer. Her portfolio includes red carpet couture gowns, bridal collections, cocktail attire, menswear and hotel uniforms.

Eight years later, she opened her second boutique in Beijing. "It was really a great experience to launch in Beijing. Beijing is really big, compared to Seattle, where I live," she said.

"We got really good responses. I met amazing people and we did our first show there. It was lovely," said Yang.

With business partners and her family living in China, Yang frequently travels between Seattle and China, and those trips have inspired her, too.

"I see amazing fashion in China. I think Shanghai is the new Paris of the world. It's so fashionable," said Yang. "I actually see people dressed so fashionably and so forward, like they are not afraid to try new things."

"Because of that open mind for fashion, I think there's a lot of innovation happening in China," she said. "With the Chinese clients, I'm able to push the envelope and do a lot more color, a lot more vibrant textures, and really have fun."

Yang is currently partnering with Alaska Airlines to promote the new uniform collection in the San Francisco Bay Area, a key market for the airlines.

She's also working with a few corporate clients on some hotel uniforms. "I'm not just designing but manufacturing for them, because we have a very good relationship with our Chinese factory partners."

Yang, who can speak fluent Chinese, is very proud of her Chinese language skills, which help her not only understand her Chinese customers, but also communicate with manufacturers.

"When I go to the factory, I can speak to the pattern maker, the seamstress, or the factory manager," she said.