8on8: Designer Interview

8on8: Designer Interview

We meet Li Gong, one of China’s brightest talents, who fuses traditional British tailoring with his unique future-focussed aesthetics

Charlie Brooker’s cult TV show Black Mirror might not seem like the most obvious starting point for a young designer’s collection. But “San Junipero”, one of the writer’s most popular and uplifting episodes, was just that. For his SS20 show, designer Li Gong (pictured above), who only graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2017, fused classic tailoring with futuristic references and soft pastel shades. A superlative sartorial mash-up that’s fast becoming this young talent’s signature style. Fresh from the success of said show, we caught up with him where he told us about his GQ China sponsored catwalk presentation, the world of 8on8 and his love of London style.

On the design process I normally start with cutting and draping. In that way I get a sense of the silhouette, the proportions, and the fabrication, then I start drawing something that’s based on the shape I’ve created.

On the 8on8 aesthetic The aesthetic of 8on8 is “retro futurism”. The brand is based on my chronological perspective and it uses every day life as a reference to construct my vision of an idealistic world.

On the shift from studying business in Ningbo, China, to fashion in London I always follow my heart and make decisions for myself at different stages of my life. There is no specific reason, I just felt, so I did!

On how 8on8’s aesthetics were interpreted in the hair Clean and young, random but smart. The same way that there is always some contrasting element against which we can see each other through my work.

On working with Toni&Guy The Toni&Guy team was very professional and everybody was good at what they were doing. They’re all really detail driven. We had a lot of communication and the suggestions that they provided were so helpful for me to be able to fulfil the look and feel of my collection.

On winning the Grand Prix LVMH Scholarship I was nominated by my course director for the final interview with the LVMH group. The scholarship gave me great support, both financially and psychologically, to build up my graduation collection.

On being inspired by that Black Mirror episode The vision of letting go of the true self, and going to wherever one wants in the 1980s, let me create prints that are extracted from graffiti art from that decade, with washed and worn effects on jersey to represent the underground club culture of the era.

“I always follow my heart and make decisions for myself at different stages of my life”

Li Gong, 8on8 founder

On nostalgia vs fresh design I always aim to give a new look to something old. I’m always trying to convey some classic element, colour and skill in a brand new way.

On London It’s still the most creative and energetic place in the industry. I learnt all my fashion knowledge, technology skills, and sense in London. The way I work is very British, as well as my point of view with regards to the fashion industry.

On life since graduation I’ve been busy but happy. There’s a lot to learn going from college life to real business.

On using chainmail It’s all 100 percent handmade. And it’s a development from past seasons. I’m trying to give it a sense of garment.

On 8on8’s futuristic outlook It’s in the fabric, trimming, styling, music and the atmosphere of the show. I’m building up, not only a futuristic outlook, but I’m also trying to build a society for the 8on8 brand.


See more of Toni&Guy's Fashion Week coverage here

  • Words: Miriam Bouteba

  • Photography: Courtesy of 8on8, JP Bonello, Chris Yates