Love From Blue Spotlight: Gloria Yu
Tell us a bit about yourself, where you’re from, what’s your connection to Hong Kong?
My name is Gloria Yu and I am a designer, content creator and sustainability advocate. I design headbands for my label Yunotme as well as digital products such as apps and websites for other purpose-driven companies. I also create content on sustainable fashion and lifestyle to support people, companies and organisations I love!
I grew up and lived in Hong Kong most of my life. I often say home is wherever I am, but Hong Kong will always be a true home to me because it’s where my family is at and because so many beautiful memories have been created for me in this vibrant and unique city.
Tell us a bit about your brand ‘yunotme’ and how it came about?
I started my brand in 2014 after I graduated from Parsons the New School for Design in New York. I was really attracted to the sculptural quality of headpieces and I was the only person in my year of fashion design graduating with a headpiece collection. By a stroke of good luck, luxury retailer Lane Crawford supported my collection and commissioned me to make a collection of headpieces, sparking the start of my brand.
I operated my brand for three years till 2017, and I restarted it in September of 2020, this time with more consideration to the environment and those who make my pieces. I also wanted to produce all these pieces at a slow pace - for these are all handmade and little wearable pieces of art. To me, what brings me joy most is seeing women happy in my pieces!
Tell us about your creative style and methods of working? What do you find challenging?
I love the meditative process of hand making pieces. I think I’m definitely more attuned to 3D over 2D design – for example I’m better at creating sculptural pieces like headpieces than print design for a dress. Even in my digital design work, I gravitate more towards multi dimensional work such as information architecture and prototyping over detailed interaction design, but I am at awe at people who are good at that.
When it comes to what I find challenging, it’s less about finding areas of work challenging than noticing wow, there are people who are so much better at me in this area (and enjoy it so much more)!!! For me that includes different areas of design that I don’t particularly enjoy or am good at, or admin and management work surrounding the creative process. But then it’s great to turn these gaps into collaboration opportunities, as no one is good at everything and to achieve big things, we must work with other people.
Have you enjoyed working in a collaborative way?
I definitely learned during my first time operating my brand from 2014-17 as a one-woman team that I needed to work with people. I grew up having a “can-do” attitude, so yes I can design for my brand, yes I can do accounting for the company, yes I can do marketing for it as well. But is that a good long term strategy? No.
Now I really enjoy a collaborative way of working! I learned I needed to build opportunities to collaborate with, trust, and share expertise and vision with others – for that’s the only way great things can be built. Plus when you find great people to collaborate with, it’s fun!
You are a sustainability queen! What do you do in your day to day life to practice these values?
I don’t know if I deserve the title haha. But I definitely try to learn and share what I’ve learned with my audience so everyone learns a little along the way. I have changed my fashion shopping habits drastically since a few years ago, focusing a lot more on quality over quantity, and I try to do my part by bringing along a reusable lunchbox, grocery bag, water bottle and coffee cup with me wherever I go.
There is still so much work to be done in the area of sustainability. While we can’t simply rely on people for change, for governments and companies have huge responsibilities, we can all do our part if we can. As zero-waste chef Anne-Marie Bonneau said, “We don't need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”
Any tips for fashion designers just starting out in their careers on how to design sustainably?
Read and learn. There are so many resources out there on what you can do I highly recommend doing the usual google search. For a book that I think is a must-read, and a simple read, for anyone looking to design fashion sustainably, check out The Responsible Company by Yvon Chouinard, founder and owner of Patagonia, and Vincent Stanley, co-editor of its Footprint Chronicles.
What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future, Any big plans?
Use my skills at design to create a better world with like-minded people and companies. It’s a daily small plan that I hope will accumulate to something big :)