Chinese Yi designer adds ethnic colors to international fashion


Silver jewelry designed by Longhong Ziwei Photo:Courtesy of Longhong Ziwei

Silver jewelry created by Longhong Ziwei Photo:Courtesy of Longhong Ziwei

Influenced by the silver beads on the traditional ornaments created by China’s Yi ethnic minority, a pair of “tiny lantern” ear fall earrings are designed from finely hollowed silver beads with smooth arcs that weigh only 11.7 grams.

One more pair of ear drops, “Star,” designed from prosperous layers of disks resembling stars in the evening sky, is dependent on the Yi people’s stargazing custom.

These ornaments tightly certain to the conventional society of the Yi ethnic group ended up intended by Longhong Ziwei, who was born and raised in the compact Yi group in Southwest China’s Yunnan Province. In 2017, she founded her individual trend model Soft Mountain. 

Considering the fact that its inception, Smooth Mountain has been focused to cooperating with outstanding Yi artisans. On the basis of respecting custom, the brand name is trying to find to secure by way of ground breaking up to date design and style these conventional capabilities that are in danger of fading absent, Longhong told the World wide Moments.

The designer has generally noticed ethnic lifestyle as the resource for her types. 

“There are 56 ethnic groups in China, every single of which has its own exceptional cultural heritage and handicraft tradition. What I want to do is to retain their vitality,” she mentioned.

Phase by step, Longhong has launched her brightly colored ethnic is effective to the manner world. In May well 2019, worldwide heavyweight manner journal Vogue named her a person of the seven most reducing-edge jewellery designers in China. In 2020, she introduced her designs to London Vogue 7 days.

Longhong explained she thinks traditional ethnic lifestyle can perform a big part in manner with the aid of nearby artisans who have inherited their capabilities through the generations. Meanwhile, giving a system for these artisans is a practical way to revive ancient traditions.


Yi ethnic designer Longhong Ziwei Photo: Courtesy of Longhong Ziwei

Yi ethnic designer Longhong Ziwei Photograph: Courtesy of Longhong Ziwei

Operating with regional artisans

Longhong stated that the most prominent feature of her model is its insistence on cooperating with artisans from the Yi ethnic group.

Just after researching art style and design in London and generating the manner brand name in 2017, Longhong and her staff returned to her hometown to come across inspirations from neighborhood ornaments. They frequented area heritage museums, wandered the streets and discovered suppliers marketing silver ornaments. 

“Nearby people today are really warm-hearted. Once a grandma read we have been on the lookout for Yi-model ornaments, she rushed to dwelling and brought us her ancestral jewellery so we could respect it,” Longhong recalled. 

Usually, the Yi folks have on silver add-ons. For instance, Longhong’s grandmother is accustomed to placing on her add-ons as shortly as she will get up each working day. 

Longhong has identified 8 artisans to work with her studio. A person of them was even persuaded to return to the village from East China’s Shandong Province, where he labored as a design worker.

Unable to endure by creating jewelry for a living, several regional artisans in the village gave up this ancestral ability and left to locate work opportunities in the huge towns. Longhong claimed that this livelihood dilemma virtually spelled the conclusion to Yi conventional handicrafts.

Offering a livable salary is 1 of the ways Longhong has been preserving the regular competencies alive whilst also acquiring her aim of advancing her manufacturer. 


Yi women attend a traditional dance festival in the Chuxiong Yi Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan Province. Photo: VCG

Yi women attend a classic dance pageant in the Chuxiong Yi Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan Province. Photo: VCG

Coming into the worldwide stage

With assist of local artisans, Longhong’s patterns have captivated additional and a lot more focus overseas.

In 2019, Longhong obtained an e mail from common British e-commerce system Web-a-Porter, which termed her will work fantastic and lovable. The e-mail amplified Longhong and her team’s self-assurance and since then the designer has established her eyes on the international market. 

When she attended to the Spring/Summer time 2020 London Vogue 7 days, Longhong took benefit of the opportunity to do a tiny exhibition termed The Items We Are at the city’s Arthill Gallery. 

On a white wall, black-and-white images taken by photographers these kinds of as Guo Jianliang of folk craftsmen earning silver ornaments took guests to the mountains and rivers where the Yi men and women reside. For the duration of the two-7 days exhibition, men and women showed wonderful curiosity in the culture of the Chinese ethnic group.

Longhong recalled that one particular aged couple wandered all-around the exhibition for just about two several hours, asking several in depth questions about the ethnic group. 

Longhong is not the only ethnic minority Chinese designers to action onto the global phase. Jin Jingyi, a clothing designer of the Daur ethnic team, has organized a study staff to have interaction in the rescue, security and inheritance of northern China’s ethnic minority clothing.

Jin extracted cultural features from conventional Daur and Qroqen garments and turned them into designs and designs for present day clothes that she then introduced to China Global Style Week.

Possessing attended London Style Week, the trend phases of France, Spain and the US are now on Longhong’s agenda. 

“Overseas international locations present a particular enthusiasm for the range of Chinese ethnic minority society and value it very a lot,” she famous.

Silver jewelry designed by Longhong Ziwei Photo:Courtesy of Longhong Ziwei

Silver jewellery intended by Longhong Ziwei Photo:Courtesy of Longhong Ziwei



Source hyperlink