Cover The Shushu/Tong autumn/winter 2019 show in Tokyo (Photo: Onnie A Koski/Getty Images)

Actress Gemma Chan wore a dress by the Chinese designers to the Fashion Awards, and we take a closer look at who they are

Gemma Chan shared a post on Instagram wearing a fabulously festive white dress that she wore to the Fashion Awards last week, noting that it was by Shushu/Tong. A large bow made up most of the bodice, the skirt fell straight and hit above the knee, and a crystal collar-cape draped over her chest and shoulders.

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Liushu Lei and Yutong Jiang are the design duo behind this independent Shanghai-based womenswear label, and Shushu/Tong is on the rise. Starting out in 2015, they’ve consistently incorporated hyper-feminine details in their pieces, notably bows and ruffles, while maintaining a casual and cool attitude.
 
We love their bold and unapologetically lady-like take on dressing, and here are five things to know about these designers and their label:

1. 1/ They’re originally from Chengdu

Lei and Jiang grew up in Chengdu, and even went to the same school, although they were in different classes and didn’t know each other. It was only when they went to Donghua University in Shanghai that they met in a design class and found out they were from the same hometown (having likely passed each other in the hallways at school).

2. 2/ They’re best friends

The pair bonded over their love of manga illustrations, particularly Nana, as well as other aspects of Japanese pop culture. With these shared interests, it became easier for them to forge an aesthetic to grow together. Even the brand name, Shushu/Tong, is evidence of how much they value each other––it’s their nicknames merged.

3. 3/ They started out working in London

After finishing university in China, Lei and Jiang decided to go to the London College of Fashion together, where they would eventually become roommates and launch their brand.
 
Before that, they worked at labels Simone Rocha and Gareth Pugh, which is where they built their portfolios and got a feel for what goes on behind the scenes. Those were their first jobs at fashion houses, and they’ve both admitted they’re grateful for those experiences.

4. 4/ "Femininity with a twist” is at the heart of their brand

Puffy silhouettes, textured pleats, floral details and bows galore are common themes in many of Shushu/Tong’s collections, and that’s because Lei and Jiang want to both redefine and reinforce their views on femininity.
 
Their Lolita-esuqe, babydoll grunge aesthetic is cute and confident all in one, with elegant references from the '60s and '70s beefed up with chunky accessories and an edgy essence.

5. 5/ Their latest collection was inspired by manga

Their spring/summer 2022 collection is called Tennis Sweet and was inspired by the late '70s manga Aim for the Ace!. The story follows high school student Hiromi Oka who wants to be a professional tennis player but encounters challenges with anxiety and love.

The collection was shown at Shanghai Fashion Week against a backdrop of bubblegum pink littered with tennis balls. It also featured retro takes on tennis whites. There were plenty of two-piece sets, incorporating knit fabrics, polo shirts, miniskirts and long socks, all dolled up with beehive hairdos and sparkling jewels. Sportswear looks transitioned to more evening-wear pieces, with black satin skirts and gloves making an appearance.

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