Tell us a bit about yourself and how INJURY came to be?
I’m Eugene Leung, Founder and Creative Director of INJURY, a creative fashion house that focuses on our own slow fashion designer wear brand, creating original music and other multi-media art creations.
I started INJURY in 2004 mainly as a hobby, I was creating graphics and tee-shirt collections in my spare time outside of my architectural job. After the first two seasons, we saw good business growth with INJURY, so we moved forward and worked on it full-time, making our full menswear fashion collection and joined Melbourne Fashion Week for the first time in 2005.
Dan Tse joined INJURY in 2008 as the Womenswear Design Director, she established the womenswear line and expanded the wholesale business to a global network, with a strong focus in Asia.
Since starting in 2009, can you break down your thought process on expanding INJURY into the global market and what challenges/triumphs you experienced?
Like many other Australian brands, we started off joining Australian fashion week to gain retail orders in Australia and New Zealand. Business was good between 2004 to 2008, we also managed to get a distribution deal with a Japanese distributor which was our first step towards exporting to Asia.
In 2008 the retail market economy in Australia wasn’t as good as before and we realised that we were relying more on our overseas orders. We decided to take bigger steps forward to expanding into the global market, we started showing our collections at trade shows in the US and in Paris and signed a distribution deal with a Hong Kong multi-label showroom. We were then selling to around 20 stores in the US and Hong Kong in amazing select stores like Oak NYC, I.T, Harvey Nichols and D-Mop. We then expanded further and began selling to countries like Singapore, Japan, Korean, Taiwan, Thailand and Macau, China etc.
In 2014, we joined the first-ever independent designer brand showroom in Shanghai. At that time this was very new in Shanghai and only 24 fashion brands were invited to showcase. INJURY was the only foreign brand alongside the best independent Chinese fashion designer brands. We gained a decent amount of orders in our China showcase instantly, however as we were new to the Chinese market we realised that the product sales tax, invoicing system and logistics were a lot more complicated than what we have encountered in other markets; it took us sometime to figure all these out. We made mistakes and then became confident in trading with new markets.
Your AAFW 2021 digital show ‘The Butterfly's dream’ was Australia’s first ever 100% CGI digital fashion show, can you tell us why you decided to take that avenue and the process that came with it?
We have done many physical runway shows over the years in fashion weeks in Australia, Paris, New York, Beijing and Shanghai. As much as we are very happy with all these experiences, we felt that for AAFW 2021 it was time to challenge ourselves and create something different. Especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, we felt that new formats can stimulate our own creative development as well as bring a new perspective of what a fashion show format could be.
The process has been fun and amazing. With many ‘expectable’ shocking moments, I would say it was pretty much like a roller coaster ride. Although we had experience with creating avatars and CGI campaigns since 2018 when we were curating and creative directing a campaign to promote designers in Hong Kong, we had never made a 3-minute long 100% CGI fashion film with this level of complexity. The technical side was completely new to us. We created an entirely new 3D environment, over 10 avatar characters as well as designing and making all the clothing and accessories digitally.
We needed to create the film within a month for AAFW and realising that just the rendering would take up to 2 weeks, we formed a small global team that consists of 3D clothing technicians, rendering engineers and 3D environment designers who we worked with very closely. The process was very intense and we basically worked 24/7 to overcome problems we faced.
What are your plans to continue the combination of tech and fashion in your future collections/showcases?
We would like to develop further in the realm of mix-reality art for fashion campaigns and showcases, so that fashion simulation technology can be as relevant to our current business model and contribute more to the ecosystem of the fashion industry.
I believe our goal is to use tech as a tool to help minimise wastage through the process of clothing sampling and merchandising. We would also like to keep using tech as a base to help us collect data and gain consensus to determine what product is worth producing in a physical format.
What’s next for INJURY?
The CGI fashion show is part one of the story where everything is in the digital world, the clothing is only available in a digital format in our online shop; Part two is to bring all these digital clothing into real life, so right now we are busy developing the physical collection for real people.
We are also working on our next music release and a pop-up retail store that promotes a circular economy.