Alien concept

Weekend Glitz | Lisa Kao 8 May 2020

Angus Tsui's fashion designs may look out of this world - that's because they are inspired by extraterrestrials.

Known for his futuristic and avant-garde creations, the 27-year-old's unique fashion sense is shaped by his love of science fiction.

"Since a young age, I have loved watching sci-fi movies, especially the Alien series," said Tsui. "I have watched them up to a hundred times."

The scary narratives did not faze him. "I didn't pay much attention to the plots, but I was instead attracted to the designs, colors and lines of the characters.

"One of the aliens transforms from a worm to a parasite and a bee. The creature's creator has built an unusual kind of beauty."

With a grandfather in the garment industry and a mother addicted to knitting and sewing, perhaps it was inevitable that Tsui would be drawn to fashion design.

"Since I was a kid, I've enjoyed drawing human figures dressed in extraordinary items, such as Alien-inspired clothing."

What started off as a hobby came into the spotlight at fashion design competitions during his secondary school years.

"I participated in the in-school fashion design competition for two years, the first with an ancient royal family design and the second with a paper fan concept," he said.

Despite not having any formal training apart from learning sewing in home economics class, he went ahead with his entry. Though he was embarrassed by his unskilled designs, they won him more than just awards.

"I was the champion in the high school category," he said. "And it allowed me to realize that I could transfer the imaginative drawings on paper to something actually wearable."

Having found his calling, he went on to polish his skills at the Hong Kong Design Institute and Nottingham Trent University, then started his eponymous brand in Hong Kong after graduating in 2014.

Despite having launched seven collections since 2012, Tsui never lacked inspiration. Transforming his past drawings into wearable fashion items was already enough to keep him busy, as seen in his Xenomorph series.

"The collection was inspired by the Alien movies," said Tsui. Its lines, textures and structures owe their origins to the films' aliens.

The sci-fi theme continues in his latest collection, ' - - - - - .' He explained: "The name spells out 'home' in Morse code. It tells a story of humans and androids colonizing an alien planet as Earth faces massive destruction."

Tsui's unique ideas led to an invitation for him to take part in a Salvatore Ferragamo exhibition, as well as widespread acclaim in the latest London Fashion Week.

But aliens are not the only thing he is passionate about. Sustainability is another.

Tsui discovered eco-fashion for the first time in that very same competition that he joined in secondary school.

"An alumnae turned our uniform fabric into sophisticated pieces," he recalled. "I then realized that recycled items could be turned into something very attractive."

He later came across the concept again while studying at HKDI, through the EcoChic Design Award (now Redress Design Award).

"We used upcycled stock and waste materials from Esprit and applied a zero-waste technique," said Tsui. "It was the first time I put sustainability into practice."

Since then, every collection he created has upheld sustainable values. His collections Xenomorph and Somewhere In Time use zero-waste and eco-printing techniques, while ' - - - - - ' incorporates a reusable design.

"We always talk about recycling, but it's more important to reduce waste," said Tsui.

His ' - - - - - ' collection introduced an interchangeable concept, in which different parts of the clothing item can be restructured into new pieces with a different style.

"A lot of people throw their clothes away when they become outdated or too boring to wear. This interchangeable concept can bring freshness to the clothes."

Though Hong Kong is often referred to as a "cultural desert," Tsui said he received plenty of support, such as from the Fashion Incubation Programme. Among his mentors was sustainable fashion pioneer Orsola de Castro, whom he met at the EcoChic Design Award.

Approval from his parents was a shot in the arm for Tsui as well. "When I first chose my major, many relatives said my choice was risky but my parents were supportive," Tsui recalled.

To set their mind at ease, Tsui made sure to include them along his journey. "I brought them to my fashion shows," he said.

And now, they are very proud of their son.

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