Just after Elleme’s AW19 collection landed in store, we caught up with Jingjing Fan to find out more about her career, inspiration and future plans
Paris-based Chinese designer Jingjing Fan is taking Instagram by storm with her cult accessories brand Elleme. The label marries Parisian sophistication with Fan’s Chinese background to create playful and chic handbag designs, attracting attention from A-list celebrity clients and high-profile stockists. We caught up with the designer to find out more about her career, inspiration and future plans…
What inspired you to create Elleme?
I simply followed my dream and worked hard at it, so I can live my life practicing my passion. In 2015, social media presented an opportunity for designers around the world to showcase their creations and talent. We could start by skipping the fashion show and flagship store, and get direct feedback from the public. Elleme comes from the phrase “elle aime,” which means “she loves” in French, and we’re committed to making beautiful and top-quality products for women.
What makes Elleme stand out from other handbag brands?
We want our accessories to complement the wearers, instead of taking away the attention from them. Our bags are sidekicks to each woman and her unique style. They are timeless and simple – they can go well paired with jeans and T-shirt for brunch, or a beautiful dress for a night out.
With our strong brand aesthetic and identity paired with high-quality Italian craftsmanship, we aim to be a timeless fashion accessories brand.
What is the inspiration behind your bestselling Baozi bag?
Our first successful bag was our Raisin style – its organic shape, hand-stitched handle and exceptional quality had gathered a lot of attention. The media and our customers started calling it ‘the dumpling bag’ or ‘Xiaolongbao,’ so as an extension of its success, I have created a smaller version, called Baozi, which also pays homage to my heritage.
We also have the mini version that we launched very successfully two seasons ago, called Madeleine as it looks like the Madeleine cake, to pay homage to Paris and France, where we are based.
How has your Chinese cultural background influenced you?
I was born in the 1980s in China and back when I was young, the choice of what we could purchase was very limited. My mother bought foreign magazines and handmade most of my clothing, backpacks and shoes in my early childhood. It makes me value the craftsmanship and the importance of each individual piece. Being Chinese also makes me want to inspire the next generation of Chinese designers – as long as your product is well designed and well made, it can become a success if you work hard at it.
A lot of celebrities and fashion bloggers are wearing Elleme bags at the moment. How would you describe the Elleme girl in three words?
She’s confident, simple, and singular.
What do you think is the biggest handbag trend for next season and beyond?
I feel large bags are about to make a comeback – definitely lots of totes.
We will be focusing on new materials for next summer, especially sustainable materials, which are very important for us. But sustainability is not just a trend, and I hope to see it as a requirement in our industry.
Why did you choose to start and develop the brand in Paris, and what do you like most about the city?
I have lived in France since I was a young teenager. Everyone breathes art in Paris. It’s an old cultural centre, with its countless museums, exhibitions and beautiful architecture. But it is also a city full of energy and creativity to feed one’s imagination.
Which cities or places inspire you?
Paris is without a doubt the city that inspires me the most, hence why our team is based here. A simple walk around the Parisian streets can give me endless ideas. Take for example our Simone bag, which is inspired by the Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir bridge. Or our Vosges tote bag – I conceived the final details while strolling around place des Vosges. Apart from Paris, Lisbon is a beautiful city that also gave me a lot of inspiration. I also love visiting vintage shops around the world to get inspired from the past.
Which essentials do you always carry with you?
I am always on the road, so my phone is definitely the most essential item. I cannot leave home without my pen and my notebook – an idea or concept can pop-up at any time, so I have to make sure I put it down on paper.
Congratulations on the new Elleme boutique in Shanghai. What’s next for Elleme?
Thank you, it was an important milestone for me to have my first international store in China – it is where I am originally from and I hope more consumers can enjoy my creations back home.
Shanghai is beautiful – Grand Gateway is one of the most prestigious shopping malls in China, and we’re grateful of the support we’ve got for our vision.
We have more stores planned for Tokyo, Shanghai and Beijing from now to 2020. There’s a great synergy that’s building up between our stores in Paris, our distributors across the globe and our new stores in China.
Elleme, 19 rue Ferdinand Duval, 75004 Paris, +33 (0)1 4370 8459
Elleme, 3 rue Chabanais, 75002 Paris, +33 (0)1 4508 5778