Ning Dynasty talks about working with Kai-Isaiah Jamal and the Core Collection
Raised as a millennial in Guangzhou, fashion designer Ning Yuan was born in the era that spawned China’s insatiable love for streetwear. Their brand was launched in 2021 Ning Dynasty is the epitome of that presence, but with a unique twist: ’90s American hip-hop culture combined with the newfound pride she and her generation have in Chinese heritage.
The London-based label’s non-gender collections have created a unique selling proposition by primarily championing China’s historic craftsmanship. in the a homage to the 5,000-year-old craft, Garments are cut from 100 percent mulberry silk as part of a long-term partnership with Huang Jin from Beijing — the only silk producer in the world to bear the prestigious seal of the Forbidden Palace.
This luxurious artistry is brought into streetwear designs, merging the seemingly opposing aesthetic. But it’s working, as evidenced by the latest “Core Collection,” which includes a campaign featuring notable poets, models and activists Kai-Isaiah Jamal alongside models Akima Maldonado, Emmanuel Alli, Felix Allen and SeungHoo Kim.
To commemorate the collaboration with Jamal and the brand’s first anniversary, Jing collabs and drops spoke to Founder Yuan.
How would you describe the first year of the Ning Dynasty?
The first year was a year where we found our place in the streetwear market. We wanted to be loud and open and show how intricately we can digitally print our silk while celebrating Chinese culture. We also wanted to use summery imagery to evoke our brand’s festive flair. The reception is well received. However, we found that some of our silk messages were lost as we tried to achieve a lot at once. Over the past year we have really had to go back to basics and rediscover the true DNA of our brand, which at its core has always traced back to mulberry silk and our long-term partnership with Huang Jin.
Do you think there is pressure in the streetwear space to produce limited edition drops?
There is definitely pressure to produce new things and constantly stimulate the customer on all fronts, be it through collaborations, designs or “viral moments”. The hype element has diminished in our opinion compared to a few years ago and now there is more room for storytelling even within streetwear. For Ning we produce in small batches and we are concerned with preserving a dying craft among silk artisans – this makes our collections already limited editions yet remain timeless. Along with our history, I think we have something that no one else on the current silk scene does – in terms of silk heritage and history.
Why did you choose Kai-Isaiah Jamal to be part of the Ning Dynasty Core Collection?
Kai speaks to his audience through multiple channels. Not only are you the model of the moment, but through performance poetry and as a trans visibility activist, Kai has something extremely positive and empowering to say in our industry. We want to support and be a part of that message in our industry and the shoot was our visual representation of that.
Is collaboration an important part of your branding strategy?
Yes, that is part of our strategy. We have exceptional silk shirts and we want exceptional people to wear them, regardless of origin, race, age or gender. The core collection consists of 10 simple but exquisite shirts and we wanted to highlight the unique personality of each talent. We didn’t want to push products to fit a person’s look. We prefer that the shirts emphasize their individuality.
Another major focus for us is to educate the customer about the quality of our fine mulberry silk. This can be seen in the movement of the shots; the glamor and the way it envelops every talent.
Finally, who would be the Ning Dynasty’s dream collaborator?
It would be our absolute dream to have the opportunity to work with a variety of global artists, talents from music, art and cinema as well as trendsetters from the fashion industry.