Every day thousands of brands are launched onto the world market, among them, an increasing number from emerging countries. This week Nicely Made in China (NMiC) is happy to give centre stage to NLGX, a new Chinese street-wear brand. Created in 2008 by Michel Sutyadi and Ed Hung, NLGX recently opened a store at Beijing’s Capital Airport Terminal 3 and is about to open another one. Quite an achievement for such a young brand, and so to help NMiC learn more, we interviewed Michel Sutyadi.
Michel, how did you start NLGX and what does it mean?
Our brand comprises of the letters NLGX which stands for Nan Luo Gu Xiang. [In the late nineties, Nan Luo Gu Xiang was one of the first street in Beijing where bars and funky shops opened up]. Ed and I began by creating an online map of all the Nan Luo Gu Xiang bars and stores, which we updated monthly in an effort to keep pace with new openings and closures. In 2008 we opened our first café in which we began to sell T-shirts and bags. But very quickly we needed more space for the retail side of the business, so we stopped serving coffee. That’s how the NLGX adventure began!
Today, what type of products do you sell?
We create new designs for the T-shirts we make, and also produce bags (from recycled newspapers) as well as a variety of accessories. We recently launched a fashion brand called Kommute for travellers and commuters.
Who is the designer? Where do you get your inspiration?
We both come up with ideas and concepts from which I then create the designs. As for our inspiration – we just look around us. We live in an old part of Beijing which gives us a lot of ideas. We also introduce the new Beijing in our creations – the Blue-Sky-day concept, the airport codes, etc… All things that have become part of the life of the 2012 Beijinger! For the new Kommute line, we feel we’ve created a line of clothing for people like us! Ed and I both ride our bikes to work every day, so we knew that we wanted a bike hoodie that we could not find on the market. We put a reflector on the back for night rides for instance!
Quality control is a hot topic, especially regarding products made in China. What steps have NLGX in place for quality control?
First we only work with factories who have prior international experience. Then we do several rounds of sampling before we launch the production of an item, and all our T-shirts are pre-washed and pre-shrunk. The designs on the T-shirts are carefully silk-screen printed. We have made an effort on the packaging as well; each T-shirt comes with its own « green » box that we’ve designed ourselves and which are too nice to be just thrown away. They can be recycled as great storage boxes.
Who are your customers and what feedback do they give you?
It’s a 50/50 split between Chinese and foreign clients. Chinese consumers like our designs because of their simplicity and our foreign clients like the brand because it’s Chinese without being too traditional.
Where can our readers buy your creations?
They can buy via our website as well as in our stores in Nan Luo Gu Xiang and Terminal 3 at Beijing airport. At Beijing Airport you can already find many international fashion brands, but the airport authorities were looking for a local independent design brand – which is how we got invited to be there. NLGX is a Chinese brand, and even though Ed and I were not born in China our heritage is Chinese – we were both born abroad of Chinese parents.