Founded in 2015 by Ying and Amber, A.A. Spectrum celebrates both Eastern and Western fashion creating unique stories and designs built on authentic connections. While we chatted with the founders, they told us, “We traveled all over the world from Africa to Asia to Europe and America because of work. We meet people with an open heart, through in-depth contact with local people from various countries and backgrounds; we were amazed and touched by the beauty of cultures. So together, we hope that through the brand, more people can feel the inclusiveness and independence of life”.
From their name down to their philosophy, A.A. Spectrum weaves in opposite binaries and explores everything in between. “A. A. Spectrum 光谱 is a combination of English and Chinese text” says Ying. “[The] Chinese text is pronounced as ‘guang-pu’ meaning ‘spectrum’ in Chinese and A. A. Spectrum is short for ’All about spectrum’”. Built in rich heritage, the idea of ‘spectrum’ actually came about on a trip to America in 2008. Ying was visiting her sister during the presidential elections when “one of her colleagues, a cardiothoracic radiologist gently made a comment: ‘Well, it is not always black and white but all about the spectrum’”. Marked by these words, Ying instantly knew the radiologist was onto something.
Flashforward to today, A.A. Spectrum’s latest collection is rightly aligned with their ethos – an ode to life all over the world. Oversized, practical and genderless, the outwear-inspired pieces was a culmation of cultural exploration expreienced by designer and creative director Kevin on his trip to Myanmar. “The inspiration very much comes from the unconscious part of the brain. I actually have sometimes dreamt [of] a design and rushed to draw it in my notebook before it disappeared”. A struggle all creatives know, Kevin lets himself be guided above all by “storytelling”.
A key point to A.A. Spectrum’s core aesthetic is its fluid and genderless nature. The brand does not create clothing for a specific person. Instead, “a theme is [usually] developed based on research into the fashion zeitgeist”. A brand that caters to all, Kevin leans into this genderless approach to design due to his time living in China in the lates 2010s. “There was definitively a pattern emerging and a socio-cultural movement in China and the west emerging of genderless fashion. For A. A. Spectrum it has been a menswear base addapted to a new clientele of women seeking a genderless or more masculine style”. Hoping to see its male clientele also embrace a more feminine style, A.A. Spectrum thrives on its adaptability, welcoming all different identity expressions.
Speaking on his creative process to create a collection, the designer told us “The outerwear element comes from A. A. Spectrum’s company DNA being specialised in outerwear styles, so that became a starting point to develop the range plan and subsequent collections”, he explains. “The oversized silhouette was a natural development from season to season following trends and clients taste and needs. More recently, the silhouette has evolved and been challenged as a design practice to always question what we are producing and reflecting on the outcome season to season”.
Seeing the effects of the pandemic worldwide and reflecting on the heightened destructive effects of the industry on our planet, A.A. Spectrum makes it a priority to make sustainable choices in their production. Using upcycled materials, their SS21 collection offers pieces that will most certainly stand the test of time. But sustainability runs much deeper than that for the A.A. Spectrum community. “I practice sustainability in my daily life, this helps me better understand the challenges of avoiding plastic packaging, shopping fast fashion and burning fossil fuels”, recalls Kevin. “At A. A. Spectrum we understand these challenges and try our best to make the collection using reclaimed fabrics, yarns and trims made from recycled materials”. And while sustainable options are not always the most practical due to its expensive and scarce nature, “the landscape is changing fast” allowing “more and more options”.
If A.A. Spectrum has one goal, it is unity. As Ying perfectly encapsulated “We all know how different and divisive our views can be. Just like we were born with a unique face, our ideas and views are naturally different”. She goes on to say, “We applaud the words like ‘Live Free or Die’, but we shall also accept the not so heroic yet equally true human words by Achilles as quoted in Plato: ‘Ah, I would rather live as a poor man’s slave than be King of Hades’”.
Make sure to check out A.A. Spectrum’s latest collection on their website.