Ukulele is one of those rare clothing lines that designs beautifully edgy garments with a high-end look for girls on a budget. Each piece looks like a something you could only dream of having in your closet, but it’s a pleasant surprise when you see the price and realize your dreams can come true. With such a strong voice and impeccable eye for detail, I had to know more about how the designer of Ukulele, Purple-Qie Qin, does it.
I’ve read that you were a buyer and product developer for suppliers and independent labels before you started Ukulele. How did these jobs influence your career as a fashion designer?
Having worked as a buyer and product developer for several suppliers and independent labels I quickly realized that there was a gap in the market for
affordable but high quality statement pieces in the UK. There are loads of girls like me who would happily spend £100 on a dress, but at this price you expect to get a unique piece that’s not all over the high street.
How long have you been designing clothing?
I have been designing clothing for around 6 years.
And where is Ukulele based?
We’re based in Dalston in east London. It smells weird here but it’s full of character.
Ukulele seems to come from a strong passion for and knowledge of fashion. Is fashion design a career you aspired towards when you were younger?
Fashion and science have always been two things I love in life. I completed a maths degree at Manchester university and then after graduation I took up a production role in London where I learnt how to develop garments. Unlike all the designers I can’t draw very well. Lucky enough I still manage to produce what I create in my head. My motto is if you love something, go and do it. Don’t stop just because you think you’re not technically good enough.
Have you worked with any celebrities or bloggers yet? What’s it like working with them?
I only established Ukulele a year ago but the brand has already been picked up by many celebrities around London including Little Mix, Millie Mackintosh, Stooshe, Diana Vickers. We also have a large and loyal blogger following who regularly feature Ukulele in their favorite brand listings. The Princess of Monaco, Charlotte Casiraghi recently bought our Betty dress from a cute Paris boutique 30 Cancan. Lucky us!
That’s quite the roster already, but it’s no surprise! So…who’s your favorite fashion blogger?
It has to be Susie Bubble.
Now it’s time to get a bit more behind-the-scenes. What do you do outside of Ukulele?
I love cooking because I’m always hungry. I also love adventures. Anything random, fun and crazy, Oh and of course I play Ukulele.
What does “style” mean to you?
Style means personality.
Personality definitely shows when you put on Ukulele clothes! Every clothing label has its own distinct characteristics. What makes Ukulele stand out? What gives your clothes that signature “Ukulele“ look.
Ukulele is cute, feminine and subtly sexy. Our garments combine key elements like feminine shapes, luxury see through fabrics and fitted bodysuits to create the look. The Dolly Cage Dress from our AW13 collection is a perfect example of the ‘Ukulele’ look.
Describe your latest collection in 3 words.
Our AW13 collection is about feminism. It’s fresh, elegant and playful.
So what’s behind the name Ukulele?
Ukulele represents a relaxed and happy lifestyle. I believe that fashion is not an unreachable vision. Fashion is a tool to put a smile on everybody’s face.
I love that about fashion and how some clothes can make you just plain elated. So what’s your favorite Ukulele piece right now?
We’re having the hottest summer ever in the UK. I’ve been wearing our Betty dress a lot. It’s a dress you can wear for every occasion.
Have any tips for aspiring fashion designers?
Opportunities are only for people who are prepared.
Preparation does seem to be one of the keys to success. Have anything exciting planned with Ukulele?
We are going to exhibit at London Fashion Weekend and Capsule in Paris during fashion weeks in September. Come and say hi if you are around. We are also going to throw our first Ukulele party in October to thank our loyal customers. Please join our facebook page http://www.facebook.com/ukulelefashionuk for updates.
By Whitney S. Williams
Photography by Whitney S. Williams
last photo courtesy Ukulele