Mary Ching accessories brand founder on why Chinese women love her footwear
You’ve moved from Shanghai, where you started your label, back to London. is this a new chapter for you? “Yes, it is! I’m excited to be back in London although I miss Shanghai very much. It was my home for 10 years. I have taken the brand with me. I’m now working with a talented jeweller called Gerry Summers to develop and expand the collection of Mary Ching amulets.”
What inspired you to create watch accessories for both men and women? “I’m continuing my theme of ‘Forbidden Opulence’ with the introduction of the amulet – a charm that attaches to your watch strap. I conceived the concept as a student at Central Saint Martins. It made sense to combine my love of jewellery with the craftsmanship of watches.”
Mary Ching made its name as one of China’s first luxury footwear brands. what have you learned since your 2006 launch? “Creative entrepreneurship. It was such a delight to have had the creative journey and be so well received. With the history of the bound foot in China, it’s no real surprise that the Chinese consumer, such as the elegant Shanghainese, adored my footwear. It is in the blood! I liked the clash of my product offerings, such as the very sexy, high-heeled shoe with the comfortable and indulgent cashmere slipper. There was an exhibition [at the Victoria & Albert Museum, in London] last year called ‘Pain and Pleasure’, where Mary Ching was showcased among 150 other shoe designers, but the highlight was being placed in the V&A’s permanent collection to represent Chinese contemporary design. That felt great.”
How have perceptions of Chinese designers changed? “Design and designers from China are accepted internationally now. We have seen a trend of talent from China popping up in Europe and America, and there is more of a crossover.”
How would you describe your own style? “The brand DNA was based on my personality and style. Of course, we exaggerated it but it was using elements of playfulness, texture and prints. It was the tension between East and West, which was a reflection of my being Eurasian. I would describe my personal style as being eclectic if not outrageous at times ... depending on my mood.”
What are your bestsellers? “Within the Mary Ching amulet collection the most popular charms are the mother-of-pearl spiked drops. The personalised initials are also popular.