Designer Joseph Li changes direction

Former Shanghai Tang designer Joseph Li has just returned from Paris where he sourced fabrics for his new Hong Kong-inspired menswear label Saam1.

Li says he decided he needed time off for reflection after his long stint as creative director for womenswear at Shanghai Tang. “For both personal and professional growth, I think it is important that one continues to step outside of one’s comfort zone.”

Saying he wanted to explore something new and more personal, he decided menswear was the right way forward.

Now, as an emerging label, he manages all aspects of the Saam1 business.

“The jump in terms of designing was not too drastic,” he says. “Menswear is more direct, and is about making clothes that I or my friends can wear, as opposed to womenswear, which is all about the fantasy and how you see the woman… plus I can try and model the clothes on myself,” he laughs.

Saam1 mixes contemporary street-luxe styles with traditional Chinese iconography – reflective Year of the Rooster icons feature on a satin souvenir jacket, or tattoo-like zodiac, floral or numerology motifs on cotton shirts.

Reflecting its Hong Kong roots, the brand’s name is a direct translation of “shirt” or “garment” in Cantonese. In its second season, the label is already stocked in Lane Crawford and Opening Ceremony (for which he has created a series of special-edition Henley t-shirts).

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