Spotlight: Li Gong, Founder & Designer of 8ON8

By Dominic Ngai, January 8, 2019

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Spotlight is a regular series where we feature a prominent person in the style scene. This month we speak with Li Gong, founder and designer of 8ON8.

Since the debut of his menswear label 8ON8 in 2017, designer Li Gong has been showcasing his work on the runways of Shanghai Fashion Week for a few seasons, earning praise from the press for his ‘retro futuristic’ aesthetic. Here, the Ningbo native recounts his humble beginnings, and tells us why cooking is his favorite hobby when he’s away from his design studio. 

You grew up in Ningbo and later went to study fashion in London. How was that transition for you?
When I was in Ningbo, I studied business and accounting during high school, so I started from zero in fashion when I moved to London after I received the LVMH scholarship in Central Saint Martins. It was a totally different experience for me. 

“In Ningbo, I studied business and accounting, so I started from zero in fashion when I moved to London”

How were you chosen as the recipient of the LVMH scholarship, and in what ways has that helped your career? 
I was nominated by my course director for the final interview with LVMH group. The scholarship really gave me great support, both financially and psychologically, to build up my graduation collection.

What does the name 8ON8 mean, and how has the feedback of your brand been been like in China and internationally so far?
The name 8ON8 actually came from my surname, Gong. One time, the word got compressed accidentally when it was printed out, and became ‘8ON8.’ In terms of feedback, the brand awareness has been improving steadily season after season, and so have sales. 

How would you describe your style of design? How is this reflected in your SS19 collection? 
The aesthetic of 8ON8 is ‘retro futurism.’ The brand is based on my chronological perspective and uses everyday life as a reference to construct my vision of an idealistic world. In the SS19 collection, we used materials like satin, high-gloss stretch fabric and metallic hard leather to create an integration of the past and the future for the different silhouettes. 

8ON8 SS19 collection. Image via Shanghai Fashion Week.

Are there any designers that you look up to?
Helmut Lang (during the 90s) will always be my hero. His sensitive mind and avant-garde concepts and outlook still have a lasting influence on the industry and many people today.

In a previous interview, you mentioned you love to cook. What are some of your favorite dishes to make? 
My dishes are quite random. I cook everything, but I only do them in a proper way. Recently, I’ve been really into making traditional Sichuan dishes.

Does food have any influence on your designs, or does your design work influence your cooking?They are completely separate for me. Cooking is a way for me to take my mind off of work. When I’m cooking, I think about nothing but food.

Are there any new initiatives that you’ll be working on for the new year?
I’m currently preparing for the AW19 show (for Shanghai Fashion Week) in March.

For more Spotlight posts, click here. Find out more about 8ON8 here. Cover image courtesy of the designer.

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