In the first post of ENTRY, we linked with Chinese designer Su Junhua (also known as Su Wukou), talked about design, innovation and his favorite drinks.
A: What does "Purlicue" mean?
Su: It is a Scottish vocabulary that I came across one day, it refers to the distance between the thumb and the index finger. I found it interesting and decided to name the brand after it. There's no particular meaning behind it.
A: Tell us more about yourself; what kind of music do you listen to? What is your favorite drink?
Su: I listen to a wide range of music, even some old songs, such as Teresa Teng (a late legendary Chinese singer). I like drinks with light flavors, such as Oolong teas, jasmine teas, Americana coffee, carbonated water. those drinks have bitter and astringent flavors with a sweet after taste.
A: Do you have any unique habits that people don't know about?
Su: I like buying things that I like in multiple quantities. If I find a pair of good fitting pants, I will buy two pairs in same size, same color; sometimes I even buy four pairs.
A: With the internet being essential to all business, especially the fashion industry, what is your take on blogging or e-commerce?
Su: I was really interested in internet when I was in college. In 2006, I built an online platform that allowed users to meet people through exchanging their used items. For example, you have a jacket that you don’t wear anymore, maybe I would trade it with a pair of shoes. However, the concept of exchanging goods online was a small-scale idea back in the day. Later on I didn’t spend too much time on it; instead, I focused on areas that I was more familiar with.
In regards to blogging, I am actually still very interested in seeing what's new, but i find myself circling between the same couple websites, which end up posting pretty much similar stuff anyways. I am always intrigued to find some new sources for information.
A: You are also behind the Do Nothing Club brand, a uniform label which preceded Purlicue. Could you elaborate the idea behind it?
Su: The name Do Nothing Club was an oxymoronic concept. Do Nothing Club produces uniforms. Traditionally, uniforms were created for specific occupations; you wear a certain type of uniform when you do a certain type of work. So the name Do Nothing Club is a contradicting idea. It sounds like I was creating uniforms for those who do nothing and do not require uniforms.
A: Could you take us through the designing concept of the B-1 shoes? \
Su: Again, I wanted to create a contrasting design in these shoes. As you can see, the upper design is inspired to the popular basketball sneakers, mounted atop of dress shoes soles. The simultaneous contrast of exercising and officewear is what I wanted to portray.
A: Is there any story behind the XJ-1 design?
Su: There are many holes on traditional Wingtips. From the architectural perspective, I wanted to utilize a given space. In this case, the upper of Wingtip shoes is a given space. I used shoe laces to pass through some of those holes. (In the retail version, Su used elastic wires to give the shoes more elasticity. Every step you walk, the wires open up)
A: The amazing PPK series has been the main focus of Purlicue at ANNMS. could you tell us your inspiration about it?
Su: I designed the shoes to represent the characteristic of natural leather which is unfinished. This material is easy to get dirty and dyed, and it has raw edges. I have heard of a Japanese brand called Hender Scheme. Although many people said that my designs reminded them of Hender Scheme, we had different concepts. Hender Scheme focuses on redefining classic athletic shoes, and the final look of its products would be the aging of natural leather. In my design, the aging look of leather is only one of the design purposes. the main focus I want is for the owners of purlicue footwear to interact with the shoes after the purchase; I provide raw products, but the owners interpret and create the final products, may the leather be cut open or trimmed. the interaction between the shoes and the owner is the main focus of the PPK series.
A: Your design has been considered as avant-garde, and innovative, I also heard that you are a fan of Uniqlo. Do you think there is any connection between affordable fashion and avant-garde designs?
Su: To be honest, I think “being innovative” no longer means being innovative, it is more like a style. Once a product is created based on the innovative design, the innovation itself ceases to exist, it is then called an “innovative style”. For example, I think Uniqlo is very innovative, because they are challenging themselves by maintaining a balance between price, designs and quality. Uniqlo does not view themselves as a clothing retailer, rather, they pride themselves as a technology company. They study and invent fabrics at their own factories and they treat each piece of clothing as a building block, allowing the customers to create their own images. I think that is an innovative concept. Therefore, the so-called avant-garde in menswear industry nowadays, such as the European washed fabric, or the gothic style in Rick Owens, is no longer considered innovation or avant-garde. At some point those concepts were innovative, but once it becomes a fixed style, it is not avant-garde any more. Being innovative, to me personally, means continuously pushing the boundaries and criticizing yourself. The same idea can be seen when Uniqlo continuously changes its slogans. Every new change means a new critic to their own label.
A: You have an immense interest in philosophy. What is your personal philosophy?
Su: I like simple things. I don’t like things that require a long time to explain. I never learned philosophy from a scholarly source. I learn ideas from artists and designers that i like.
A: You have created many products in limited quantities so far, including the Opening Toe Jack Purcell-inspired sneakers or canvas sneakers with metal cables. Will those conceptual products go into mass production in the future?
A: You have some very interesting tattoos, including the "THIS IS A TATTOO" on your arms. How did you come up with the idea?
Su: Honestly, I just really wanted some tattoos, but I couldn’t decide what to get. So I started thinking from an architect’s perspective. i like to think about nature of things. doesn't matter what type of tattoo you get, it is a tattoo. That's how i got this idea. (this idea has been incorporated into purlicue clothing designs, such as "this is a white tee"). About the two linear tattoos on my legs, i see them as one tattoo. every tattoo is fixed and still. I got mine because I feel like they come alive with my body motion as I walk. The more natural and purer the things are the better, that’s what I believe.
A: We are also intrigued by the card with sexual contents that comes with each pair of shoes. Could you tell us more about the inspiration of the card?
Su: Some of them are pages from rem koolhaas's diary, a dutch architect, who I really look up to. I like them so I just applied them to the cards.
A: What is next for Purlicue?
Su: Well, I think I will be making some modifications for some future products. I feel like the previous Purlicue products have too much architectural ideas, too logical. I want the future products to be more natural and spontaneous in terms of the designs.