Ou and I met a few years ago when we worked together. The setting at the Naval Yard where the Anthropologie office is located was perfect, so we decided to just do the shoot right there by the water since we had a nice sunny day.
Ou Lin is a super creative person that you know you want to be friends with the second you meet her. The thing that strikes me most about Ou is she is always smiling.
Creating embellished one of a kind products is a passion for Ou; a perfect match with her role as an Anthropologie designer.
Ou has shared more about herself in this interview, so read on and enjoy!! Don’t forget to share comments or questions when your done reading the post! We’d love to have you join in the conversation~~
C: Ou, before we start our interview, can you share a little more with us about your background and how you found fashion?
Ou: I came from Beijing and grew up in a totally different culture. I didn’t grow up surrounded with fashion and fashionable people. My only exposure to fashion was my dad traveling abroad. He brought me back very cute clothes from Paris when I was little and I remembered some of them as the style definatly stood out from other Beijing girls. That would be my early start in fashion.
I grew up in a very conservative China. When I came to the US, I thought I would try my best to learn from this different culture. After a while, I think I started to feel somewhere ‘stuck” in between two cultures, the two are so different!
I felt for a while that I couldn’t seem to find myself. I thought my roots of Chinese culture had become a disadvantage ( when trying to go further with my fashion dream)
Working at Anthropologie opened a new world for me. This is a company that appreciates different culture and brings it all together. After traveling to both Europe and Asia and creating designs inspired by different backgrounds, I think I found a good place in between — I embrace both of the cultures. I think coming from Chinese culture enriches my experience in the US, since I have a broad view and appreciation for ANY eastern or western culture.
1. C: Did you study fashion design?
Ou: Yes, I studied fashion design for undergrad( Beijing, China ) and graduate school ( Philadelphia ).
2. C: Do you often see people on the street in your designs?
Ou: Yes! I love that. I had seen people wearing our designs in US ( NYC, LA..) and in Europe ( Paris, London… ). Even once in Hong Kong I bumped into someone on the street! I cannot always say ” hey thank you for appreciating our creations” but I almost want to walk up and say that to the person!
3. C: How do you stay inspired to keep creating?
Ou: I keep my eyes open wherever I am. Books, magazines, fashion shows, museums, movies… traveling has been the greatest part of my creative process. I get to be “only with myself” and get inspired by different cultures, thinking and processing the information, then create. I like to travel alone or only with a few close friends so I can stay focused.
4. C: Are you heavily inspired by vintage, your style seems to have hints of a vintage presence?
Ou: yes always. vintage clothes are so inspiring. The shapes and details are amazing. Nowadays we do not make clothes like people used to, and globalization makes the brand names international. That means, you might see same clothes in Beijing and in Paris/New York City. Vintage clothes are unique, and you can only find one of each style! So the women wearing them really stand out.
5. C: Did you always know you wanted to be a designer?
Ou: yes, since I was 15. I was thinking about becoming a diplomat, or sculptor before that, but those ideas faded away. I started to get into fashion design and sketched allover my text books when in middle school. After, I made the decision to go for fashion school, and that was it!
6. C: Talk to me about travel. How does it influence your work?
Ou: I get excited when an airplane is taking off. Overall, I just love to travel. When I get to see a new city/ new culture, my mind get refreshed, and I feel that my eyes and my mind start to work much faster.
Before you go to a place, you will research and have an assumption on the “look” of the city/culture. When you actually get there, the smell of the city, the architecture, the climate, food, people and language… anything can be inspiring and different than what you thought! I love to feel that inner connection to the culture, then express it in my designs. The challenging thinking process makes designing even more fun!
7. C: What are some of your favorite places you’ve had a chance to travel to for inspiration?
Ou: Tokyo. I love tokyo! The designs there are so unique and people dress themselves in such a fun and crazy way. Walking down the street and people watching is the most fun. I also like to try on clothes in the young local designer stores. I like that you will be asked to take off your shoes, and put on a face cover just to try on the clothes, it’s so different. They want to keep each item in perfect condition. The whole process was forced to be slower, so you get into a specific Japanese way of doing things– slower, and putting the heart into every process. All the attention to details… I just love it!
Brugge, Belgium is also such a beautiful town, old, chilly in the early spring. I went to the small streets that had almost no tourists. I enjoyed visiting museums that were filled with old lace pieces:)
8. C: Do you have a favorite city for shopping?
Ou: # 1 Paris! # 2 Hong Kong!
9. C: If you could chose one place in Philly to share with us as an Ou Philly favorite, what would it be?
Ou: I grew up in Beijing, so I really appreciate a historical city. My favorite part of Philly is old city. I like to just walk around in the old streets, you can feel the history around you. It is very special to me.
10. C: What’s your favorite part of the design process?
Ou: I love and hate the most– sketching. I love it and I hate it. I get excited and afraid in the beginning. I start slowly then it gets faster and I don’t know what I will come up with. Then I get excited and happy…until I am so tired and cannot go any more, but I love that process that gets my mind going.
11. C: Who was your biggest advocate to help support your dreams to get where you are?
Ou: My parents. I don’t think they quite understand this career. I don’t think they ever expected me to be a fashion designer when I was little, but they supported me along the way. I appreciate it.
12. C: There are a lot of people these days that are dreaming of becoming a fashion designer. Especially since the advent of Project Runway. What advice would you give to someone looking up to you in your role, if they were just starting out and trying to achieve similar goals?
Ou: There is no job too small. If you are an intern, working well and doing a great job on the small things will get you going further in this career. Be creative on anything you can be. For example, copying, doing a basic embroidery layout, sending an e-mail to overseas, you can always do better then expected. Exceeding other’s expectations, pay attention to details. Nothing is too small, everything is important. When you do every little thing well, you will be approaching your goal.
Thanks for sharing Ou! I know the readers will enjoy learning more about you!