Growing up between The Netherlands and China I never really understood the negative connotation of "Made in China" - China has such a beautiful deep-rooted history, producing some of the world's finest fabrics.
Since moving from Shanghai to London four years ago at age 23, the idea of starting my own brand has been on my mind - I guess I was fearful to start a brand as I'm very much an outsider to the industry; I come from a music background and have only occasionally overlapped with the fashion industry. When you see the industry from the outside as I did you get a warped sense of how it is, that only if you are a trained designer can you start a label. Of course, I honour those who are incredibly skilled at what they do, however, I think there has been this amazing space opened up where if you want to create you can. And given my lack of experience, it seems crazy to say I've always wanted to launch a brand, but I have. And I feel lucky that this is a time where anyone is allowed to do anything, and we all have a launch platform at our own fingertips (social media) I have been given the opportunity to start. I have also been very fortunate that some amazing retailers such as JOAN & Modern Society have taken a chance on Hai in the very beginning.
With Hai I want to create a playful and vibrant brand using silk as the main material. Hai only officially launched in August of this year and for now we only have our silk & bamboo bags; Yellow Fellow, Purple Pal, Pink Annie & Green Bean, our little silk bags and hair accessories but I'm also working on silk clothing which will hopefully be ready to launch next spring/summer.
The silk that is used for our bags is 100 percent mulberry silk that is sourced from a small silk company in Suzhou, which is globally recognised as being the "silk capital" of China if not the world. It's there were some of the worlds finest silk is made.
The design for the bags gradually came together through a synergy of ideas. I had images in my mind of silk bags that I owned when I was younger or would see on the streets in China, but these bags even though they were simple of shape they were mostly heavily embroidered. I wanted to "modernise" silk bags and showcase this delicate and durable fabric that was created in China. The signature Hai 'Bamboo Bag' of course also harnesses an iconic Chinese material; bamboo.
So I decided to make bags that were both functional and elegant. Using simple shapes and pure colours the bags are very playful and versatile. You can use them as your day to day bag but they would also sit comfortably alongside evening wear.
Shanghai is such a magical city to live in - it's super engrossing, living there you definitely feel like anything is possible. Being surrounded by friends that are talented musicians, artists & designers and being encompassed by their energy propelled me towards discovering what I really wanted to create.