Meet Australian Designer Ivy Niu
Each month Cocktail Revolution features a new or emerging fashion designer. This month we meet women’s fashion designer Ivy Niu from Brisbane who started her professional career not in fashion but in graphic design.
You started your professional life as an illustrator. How did you transition to women’s fashion?
I was THAT art kid at school, ha ha. Always the doodler. Excelled in no other subjects except Art! So I knew that was my path. I studied Graphic Design at University and majored in Pictorial Design, which is just a fancy way of saying Illustration. After graduating, I was signed by an Illustration agency and given projects in publishing and advertising. The projects were OK but definitely on the boring side. My heart was in fashion so one day I took the leap and decided to combine fashion and illustration to create IVY NIU.
How did you make your start in women’s fashion?
As I don’t have a traditional Fashion background, I took some time understanding the Fashion Design process and sought people in areas I needed support in. Going to manufacturing trade shows is a good way to start.
Training? How does an illustrator start designing clothes?
As a Fashuuuun lover myself, I’ve always paid extra attention to the detailing in garments. From my training in Graphic Design, I already knew how to communicate what I wanted to make via imagery and spec sheets. Then I just needed to find suitable people to fill in the steps between design to the final product. First it was a pattern maker. Then a textile printer. Then a manufacturer. Later on, we streamlined that process as much as possible.
Your designs are quirky and colourful. Where does your inspiration for these patterns, colours and shapes come from?
I like to be eclectic with our colours and prints. We want to stray away from the traditional ‘range’ or ‘story’ where maybe one accent colour is featured. As cliché as it sounds, the inspiration for our women’s fashion range comes from our everyday surroundings. As Brisbane is my playground, we take the warm weather and resort-like environment as inspiration too. This is another reason why most of our styles are loose fitting and made of natural fabrics. The feeling of clothing sticking to your sweaty skin is a NO from me!
Can you tell us about your latest release?
Our latest Tent Dresses release was shot in my hometown of Taipei. We wanted to include the grittiness of the narrow alleyways in the shots to contrast the frocks. We introduced the Long Tent Dress in this collection. And it’s now sold out! More to come!
With such an emphasis on the silhouette, your tent dress seems to have hit the mark with millennials interested in women’s fashion. Why is your Tent Dress so popular?
Hey now! Our beloved Tenty isn’t just for millennials! The point of difference at IVY NIU is that all our prints have been hand painted in-house. All prints are exclusive to us. When we collaborate, instead of hitting up print textile artists who’s skills overlap with mine, we like reaching out to Designers in other fields. I enjoy experimenting on how other people’s work can be translated onto garments. This year we are collaborating with a jewellery and ceramics designer. Yey!
Who is the IVY NIU woman?
She is creative or aspires to have creativity in her life. She is not defined by age.
Advice for anyone else thinking of jumping into the world of fashion design?
From my experience, starting a women’s fashion label requires some capital. You hear stories about people starting their businesses with just $5 left in their bank account… that’s just not realistic. Know your finances. Research the garment industry before jumping in!
What’s next for IVY NIU the label?
Smaller capsules filled with Tenty goodness!