A Vacuous Debut

Talk show host Quan Yifeng’s daughter Eleanor Lee launched her No Labels fashion brand last month with just one inessential product

The beanies of No Labels modelled by Dasmond Koh’s protégé-actor Zong Zijie (宗子杰, right). Photo: No Labels/Taobao

Quan Yifeng has an outstanding, 优秀 daughter that she is really proud of: Eleanor Lee Kaixin (李凯馨; born 俞凯馨, Yu Kaixin), who is an actress, a singer, one of the ‘100 Most Beautiful Asia Faces of 2020’*, Star Awards ‘Top Ten Female Artistes’ nominee, “全能女神 (quanneng nushen or all-round goddess)” in China, goddaughter of hairdresser-turned-livestreaming-star Addy Lee (she took his surname when she turned fourteen), “and so on”. In addition, regular viewers of Star Awards would know that Ms Lee is the designer of the outfits that her mother wore on the red carpet in 2014 and 2015, when she was 15 and 16 respectively, while still in school. With that juvenile experience under her belt, she is now, seven years later, ready to launch a fashion label. Not here, but in China, where Ms Lee calls Beijing home and base for her acting pursuits.

The brands goes by the unimaginative, faintly anti-establishment, potentially pretentious name No Labels (yes, plural), although it is labelled, and is represented by the moniker in script font. 8 Days—typically the ardent promoter of Mediacorp stars’ non-acting/hosting careers—described No Labels by the convenient tag “streetwear”, a fashion category The New York Times, in an article yesterday, declared “is dead”. It was not, however, launched with a line, as there isn’t one. No Labels (the name reflects Ms Lee’s desire not to be labelled even when she has no problem with being known as a goddess) debuted last month with just one product: a beanie, available in four colours. How Yeezy Gap is that? Ms Lee curiously admitted to 8 Days, “who’s going to be wearing beanies once summer comes around?” On starting with millinery, she said, “I kind of want to test the water with it. I really wanted to put out something so I decided to start with something small like a hat. It’s winter over here so I decided on a beanie!”

Eleanor Lee. wearing her No Labels beanie, in China. Screen grab: eleanorleex/Instagram

For her customers, likely fans, it is this still-green, still-schoolgirlish, still-a-mother’s-girl (“the beanies are only allowed in the basement [of her four-storey house where she stores them] because my mum would scold me if they’re anywhere else”) persona that might direct them to the fledgling designer and her label. It is not known if Eleanor Lee has ever received education in fashion design (here, she studied in Tao Nan School and Nexus International School in Aljunied, and left for Beijing when she was 17). Some stylists we spoke to who are familiar with outfitting actresses for the Star Awards red carpet do not think Ms Lee designed her mother’s dresses the way Tom Ford does for Hollywood stars attending the Oscars. Ms Lee dabbles in art (she collaborated with Chinese artist Wu Qiong [吴琼] in a 2020 exhibition here), so it’s possible she can draw. But drawing a dress is not necessarily designing a dress.

It is not clear either if Ms Lee designed the No Labels knit beanie although she announced on Weibo: “The hat I designed is now available! ! ! 🖤💚💛💜✌🏻”. Yet, she told 8 Days that she is “more concerned about negotiating materials, sizes and designs with the factories”. Negotiating designs? Could that mean she went to a manufacturer, picked an existing style, chose the colours and determined the placement of the logotype? She said nothing about yarn choice, lab dip development, flat or circular knitting. With many of her generation weaned on blog-shop fashion, what she described could be ‘design’ to her. No Labels is currently available only on Taobao China, and Ms Lee has no intention yet to avail her stock—a modest 200 pieces per colour—to the rest of the world. She did not reveal how many beanies she has sold. Based on a single, unremarkable item, which in retail terms, is tantamount to naught, No Labels may just be a nonentity celebrity brand that would be a no go.

*According to TCCAsia, whose parent company TC Candler has rated “the world’s top male and female lookers since 1990, as reported by The Straits Times

Updated:12 February 2022, 9am

One thought on “A Vacuous Debut

  1. Pingback: Two Of A Kind: Beanies Of Labels Not | Style On The Dot

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