ELEVEN Things to Know About A. A. Spectrum 光谱
Hailing from Beijing but celebrating a global outlook on design, we’re bringing you eleven reasons this emerging menswear label should be on your lips and in your wardrobes.
Wrong or right, black or white. The notion of binaries as two opposing streams has never felt more archaic than it does right now. For everyone involved, there’s greater importance in recognising the spectrum as a range of ideas, views and humanities that each person contributes to the big conversation. Embodying this spirit is A. A. Spectrum – a fashion brand born out of Beijing, China but paving a way to wherever you are. In order for the world to get to know the brand in its purest colours, we’re here to bring you a fact file containing everything that stands behind and in front of the label that is A. A. Spectrum.
1. First up – when, where and who? A. A. Spectrum was founded in 2015 by two BFFs Amber and Ying Zeng, who collectively have almost 40 years of experience in the garment industry. While Amber is experienced in craftsmanship, product development, manufacturing and global supply chains, Ying brings the creative and artistic touch to the brand. Each of the two founders adds their unique perspective to the spectrum as they hope to build a high-end menswear brand that displays the spirits of both Western and Ancient Chinese arts.
2. When it came to naming the brand, the duo was inspired by the meaningful conversations happening in the world of politics at the time. “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,” says Ying, adding: “however, the many clashing views may after all be on a continuous spectrum and more compatible than they appear.” Wanting to reflect that same notion in the sense of design by combining influences from all over the world, Ying and Amber came up with A. A. Spectrum – which is short for All About Spectrum. And that it is…
3. However modern their ideas are, heritage of classic Chinese art is indeed important for the brand in more than just one way. While all of the pieces are made in the best factories of China, the extended name of A. A. Spectrum doubles up on its meaning as it’s followed by Chinese symbols 光谱 which are pronounced as “guang-pu” and translate into English as – wait for it – “spectrum”.
4. And then there’s the logo – three dashes positioned into a triangular shape. As a simplified form of the ren symbol, it represents the brand mission with its enveloping meaning of “people” or “humanity” as the Confucian virtue denoting the good quality of a human.
Best of A. A. Spectrum Outerwear
5. From its early beginnings, the label was focused on the exploration of outerwear, and ever since their first collection which launched in 2015, A. A. Spectrum wanted to challenge the stereotypes within menswear designs and go outside the norm, as they explored the possibilities of organic shapes to break the cold and rigid lines and found a balance between oversized silhouettes and functionality.
6. Which takes us to their hero product – the down jacket. Sometimes oversized, other times cropped and slashed, all of them are RDS-certified. The Responsible Down Standard is a global grade that monitors the entire down production process – from harvest to the final object. The only other, synthetic type of filling their jackets use is 3M™ Thinsulate™ which is known for its ultra-lightness and superior heat retention. Also notorious for its long-lasting qualities, it offers a vegan alternative that’s also environmentally friendly for its durability.
7. With the idea of building a cross-cultural brand, their design team is a collective of talents that hail from a range of nationalities. Their current design director Kevin Tallon was born in Switzerland, studied at Central Saint Martins, and previously worked for everyone from luxury houses Balmain and McQ to sportswear giants Robe di Kappa and streetwear-savvy label Maharishi. He leads a team of designers, pattern makers and technicians with training in both Italy and China.
A. A. Spectrum SS20; photo by Polina Vinogradova
8. Let’s talk shopping. For their spring/summer 2020 collection – which is currently on sale with Farfetch, Ssense and H.Lorenzo – A. A. Spectrum crafted looks on the crossroad between globetrotting business people and nomads living in harmony with nature. Using strictly pre-produced fabrics, they created a harmony of man-made and synthetic fibres, blending futuristic sportswear silhouettes with organic forms reminiscent of traditional dress. The colour palette presented a psychedelic daydream, with neon hues morphing into one another, punched up with stark white and deep black shades for maximum effect. It’s a full spectrum of choice, all here for your consideration.
10. As for their latest outing, for autumn/winter 2020, A. A. Spectrum presented a collection titled United Estates. The story brings together three distinctive crews, each coming from a different part of the urban landscape. Inspired by Simon Phipps’ book Brutal London, both the prints and the silhouettes reference the monuments of modernist architecture found both in Europe and Asia. Harmony in finding beauty in differentiation elevates these designs from just garments and into something powerful – a sense of togetherness. The shapes are narrower and lines are more streamlined, playing once again with the contrast of vast skyscrapers and the individuals that live inside them.
A. A. Spectrum AW20; photo by Herman Yu
11. The hero product for AW20? Once again a statement piece of outerwear in the form of a highlighter yellow fleece aka the Melting Polar Jacket which is part of their new collaboration with Chinese artist Melting Wang who came up with the “melting Infinity loop” embroidery. And this ain’t their first (collab) rodeo – A. A. Spectrum have previously teamed up with French label Avoc on a two-sided maxi padded coat for AW18, German illustrator Chau Luong who created “intelligent nonsense” patches for AW18, and Australian artist Kris Andrew Small who was behind the colourful prints and graphic signs for SS20. Stay tuned for who’s next…