The handcrafted fabrics of Three Animals. Photo: Three Animals Paris Workshop
In a conversation SOTD had with a Singaporean designer following the shows at Digital Fashion Week two weeks ago, a possible scenario was discussed: in time to come, the designers of the region will overtake those in Singapore for international acclaim. One of the countries discussed was China. While it is not yet evident in major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou that any fashion revolution is afoot, outside of the mainland, some China-born designers are doing extraordinarily interesting work in Europe. It is a matter of time when they will make it big.
One of them is a Ming Yin, a young Chinese woman based in Paris who does unexpectedly sophisticated men’s wear. Her label Three Animals produced by her company Three Animals Paris Workshop is a quiet embodiment of artisanal know-how and urbane finesse. Her passion is in natural fibres dyed with plant-derived indigo. While this predilection follows those of Japanese craft-based labels such as Kapital and Blue Blue, Three Animals has an unmistakable European polish. The blues and the patterns may look Eastern, but the shapes and silhouette are clearly in line with the West’s.
Three Animals indigo shirt with contrast turn-back cuff. Photo: Menlook
Ming Yin is deeply involved in the developmental stage of her designs, particularly in the production of her fabrics. So enamoured is she with working with the Chinese country folks who dye her fabrics and yarns that she often posts videos of the processes on Facebook. Seeing these village artisans plucking the leaves of the indigo plant or their hands plunged into vats to stir the dye brings forth a sentimental reaction to the clothes even before seeing or touching them.
Ming Yin graduated in fashion design at Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology. Convinced that she’d only be better if she furthered her studies in what to her is the fashion capital of the world—Paris, she moved to the city in 2000 to enrol at Studio Berçot. Considered one of the top 20 fashion schools in the world, Studio Berçot is the alma mater of many other female designers of note, such as Martine Sitbon, Isabel Marant, and Véronique Leroy. Following her graduation in 2005, it would take Ming Yin another six years to birth Three Animals.
For the curious, the three animals in the name refers specifically to the elephant, camel, and goat. Although not quite a menagerie, the trio, to the designer, collectively represents “treasure, a free mind, and a classic yet adventurous spirit”. Conceptual heft aside, these are clothes that are made with cloths that have a genesis linked to humanity, and imbibed with what French stockist L’exception calls “intellectual and culturally stimulating design.”
A surprisingly small edit of Three Animals, from SGD139, is available at Manifesto, Capitol Piazza