Yan To Interview

I wrote about Yan To earlier in the year after I'd fallen head over heels in love with the avant garde yet utterly wearable designs.

We recently got back in touch and conducted a little interview to let you all know a little bit more about the lovely Yan To and his work...
Tell us a little bit about your brand...

My brand is the start of a journey I should have taken many years ago. I have always been fascinated by fashion, be it Women's, Men's and even children.
 I wished I had gone to study fashion but unfortunately I ended up studying something entirely different. I then entered the world of regional newspaper advertising where I remained for many years.

I kind of persuaded myself that it was okay because I could aford to buy beautiful clothes, but deep down I could never buy exactly what I wanted and it was really a compromise. In fact my whole life was a compromise until I decided to take the plunge last year and start my own label.

How would you describe the Yan To woman? 

My brand is very much evolving so I cannot really say what a Yan To woman is, apart from she possesses the qualities that I find attractive such as creativity, spirit, freedom of thought, lack of conformity, a natural sensuality and of course really, really good taste. 

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I get inspired by seeing cool looking people when I am out and about. I take from these people the spirit and emotion of what they are wearing and how they wear it.  I also find people such as Audrey Tatou and Alex Kingston inspiring.

They majority of inspiration however comes from within. I tend to set myself problems, which I then set about solving. One example is the plating technique from my AW10. I started off wanting to create a dress which had a spider back created from fabric that had been plaited. The problem was that I had no idea what to do with the rest of the dress. I just had in my head a desire to have plaited straps. It took a month before I realised that by simply plaiting part of the strips of fabric and draping the rest of the cloth around the body, letting it fall organically would be the answer. Amazingly this was a new technique which hadn't been done before. It was this "invention" that gave me the confidence that despite my lack of any fashion training, I had something valid to offer.

You use a lot of unlikely fabrics (for example heavy wool for a ballgown), what is your inspiration for this?

It seemed like a good idea at the time... It actually looks amazing on and it is cut long so it looks like you are walking in your own puddle!

Do you experiment a lot with your designs?

Yes. Almost all my pieces are the results of experimentation. I do not sketch very much as I like to play with actual shapes and how they interact on the body. I like my designs to reflect the sensuality of woman and working fabrics directly onto a mannequin/ form gives me a better idea of how things will work than drawing. Also I am pretty crap at drawing so working my way helps me express myself better.

Do you let your own personal style affect your designs?

My personal style changes all the time. I kind of think its part of a designers remit to look as good as they personally can. Last year I was very much into Lanvin. This year my personal style is more Rick Owens/ Damir Doma. I have a massive wardrobe! I wear what I find attractive at any given point pretty much the way that I design pieces that I find attractive at any given point.

You have a good online presence with your twitter and NJAL profile, do you think the internet is the future of the fashion industry?

My Twitter profile was originally created to collect examples of kind acts to publish on one of my blogs A Little Kindness. It's a long story but it didn't quite result in the avalanche of examples of kindness that I had hoped for. 

I sincerely hope that the Internet is part of the future but is not THE future of the fashion industry. For me, fashion is how clothes feel and make you feel. It's the sensation of touch, sight and even smell. Take those away and present fashion on a screen and suddenly what makes a high street dress better than one that has come from a design house?

On the positive side the Internet has allowed designers to reach a far wider audience, be it in 2 dimensions only. I think that e-commerce fashion is here to stay and it is a good thing, especially with the additional returns policies on web orders. I buy a lot of pieces for myself from websites such as Oki-Ni and through fashion forums. Its really a massive subject and befitting of a piece in itself.

If anyone (dead or alive) could wear you clothes, who would you choose?

Coco Chanel, Alex Kingston and Audrey Tatou.

What did you want to be when you were younger?

Astronaut or an international playboy.

Who is your favourite designer and why?

There are so many interesting designers around. I think some up an coming designers like my friend, knit wear designer, Alice Palmer are going to achieve great things. Pierre Cardin, certainly in his early days was an absolute genius. The shapes he created have been re-invented and claimed by some current designers. I respect Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons greatly. I admire the way she has nurtured designers like Junya Watanabe, created a portfolio which has universal appeal and pioneered interesting ways to retail clothes, though her guerrilla pop up shops and of course Dover Street Market. From a force of nature point of view I chose Karl Lagerfeld. He is always very watchable and his output is astounding given how many seasons and how many lines he has presented.

What does the future hold?

My collection will be available from Harrods in early November. I got the order last Friday and I have been in a very good place since then. It is a pretty lonely being a new designer as you try to establish yourself before the money runs out. An order from the most famous department store in the world is the best news possible and give me a chance of establishing my brand and taking it to other markets. I would really like to look at designing a small menswear collection and would look at collaborations on accessories and shoes although I am currently struggling to see beyond a 255 and a pair of YSL Tributes.

For more information, visit the lovely Yan To's website.


  1. you have your fingers in all sorts of pies with all these interviews at the mo, love the weaved trousers

  2. Great interview, thanks for this, xoxo

  3. I can see why you love this designer, this collection is awesome. Love the unusual fabrics and textures used


  4. Great interview, she has such stunning designs!

  5. Im so in love with the styling in these pictures <3


  6. the sort of textured dress and the knotted ropey pants = SWOON!


  7. Great interview and dresses:)

  8. Love all of these, but the woven pants are amazing!


  9. Great, interesting interview! Thanks for sharing.

    And those designs.. Wow, they're all so gorgeous but still very wearable! x

  10. Hello! This is the first time that I visit your blog and I see is very nice!!
    I love your style, very elegant and modern!
    Good photos!!
    Kisses from http://sweetsyte.blogspot.com/

  11. you've got a great blog, keep it up!
    i'll be back for sure to see more inspiration from you
    loving it all, thanks for sharing
    and thanks for your sweet comments, it means the world


  12. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  13. love this line! Thanks for sharing this designer.

  14. great interview! loved reading it.

    xx raez

  15. wow great interview dear :) and i love this :D

    check mine

  16. Love all the black. Great interview. xx

  17. Fantastic interview, the questions were awesome, I always find something/someone new to fall in love with here :D

    Ripped Nylon


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