Cashmere for summer? Before you decide that I’ve gone utterly mad, let me explain. I’ve been crushing on Shanghai-based cashmere brand Crush for some time now. Founded by Taiwanese designer Vivian Chang in 2009, the cool, effortless, independent label has made a name for itself with timeless designs, beautiful fabrics and cross-generational appeal.
From feather-light tees and figure-hugging ribbed dresses to tank tops and formal-style jackets right the way to wintry chunky knits and fluffy teddy textures, Chang has made sure there’s plenty for every season — and even the steamy summers.
“I started because I love cashmere, but I didn’t see any unique cashmere brands out there,” says Chang, who studied fashion design at FIT in Los Angeles. “In the beginning I had only that, but now I’ve incorporated some silk and cotton.”
Styles are minimal and clean, but easy to dress up with edgier, more trend-focussed pieces, such as a leather jacket, killer heels or flatforms. The texture and tactility is central to Crush.
“To start each collection, I visit all my suppliers and look at the new yarns they have,” Chang explains. “I combine different yarns to make my own yarn. I always start with fabric research.”
It’s this approach that defines the kinds of shapes and styles that the designer creates, while at the same time making sure it’s “all up to date”. Versatile separates mix and match well, and make for some of the most comfortable outfits I’ve ever worn. Very precise and clean, Crush keeps young through freshness of colour and modern style.
The brand has been a fixture at Lane Crawford for several seasons, a testament to how many fans it has year-round in this subtropical city.
“I’ve wanted to do this timeless style since I started,” Chang says. “My customers are very feminine and confident, and they travel a lot. My knits don’t get wrinkled so you can just throw them into your suitcase. It’s all hand-washing, so really travel-friendly.”
Chang’s focus on beautiful fabrics and timelessness puts her in a similar fashion vein to the folks at Loro Piana or Bruno Cucinelli, but obviously on a much smaller scale — and more affordable. She’s now selling in almost 80 stores around the world, but doesn’t do much PR — customers keep coming back for the quality, shape and form.
“When I first fell in love with cashmere it was with this type of chiffon-ish cashmere,” she says, showing me a well-draped, ivory- coloured top in her pristine showroom. “It’s so thin but still so warm, so you never have to look chunky in the winter — just layer up. And for summer, it’s super light and comfy.”