Introducing Charles Lu, Canadian fashion designer, “Next in Fashion” Alumni, and our new JUKI Designer Ambassador! Born in Ontario, Canada, Charles began sewing at a young age, inspired by his mother’s career. Developing a keen interest in sewing, he continued practicing, motivating him to move to London, UK, at the age of 18 to train at Istituto Marangoni, the London school of fashion and design. It was here that Charles further developed and mastered his technique in garment construction. As a result, Charles has designed and produced garments for global clientele, showcased his collection in London, and created his label. Follow along as we deep dive into Charles’s story and follow his journey to where he is today.
Charles’s journey in fashion began with his mother, his true inspiration. Charles’s mother assisted in her aunt’s clothing manufacturing company in pre-wear Vietnam and then for Levi’s and OshKosh when she first arrived in Canada as a refugee. Charles was strongly deterred from using her sewing machines as a child but was fascinated with her sewing room ever since he could remember. They often went shopping for fabric together in the bargain section, where Charles watched on mesmerized and begging for her to teach him her art. When this failed, due to Charles young age, he moved forward and began visiting local libraries in the hope of finding books on sewing to be learning. Starting with hand-stitched projects, the only sewing he could do, Charles found his creative outlet in life.
By the age of 10 or so, Charles was finally granted permission to work on his mother’s JUKI industrial machine. Two decades later, Charles still loves his mother’s JUKI, now his own. He adds, “it’s intuitive and makes sewing a true pleasure despite how frustrating the sewing process can be. I often use materials that are on the cusp of resistance to regular machines, so I find it comforting to have something I can fully rely on.” Claiming himself as a perfectionist, willing to correct each small detail he notices, he considers his JUKI an extension of himself. “My brand and JUKI share the same ethos of precision and quality, so being an ambassador is an honor and a fitting dream.”
In the present, Charles finds himself enjoying his journey in sewing, claiming his most tremendous success has yet to come. While he found success in the accumulation of a finished collection in the past, he realized this mindset wasn’t allowing him to enjoy the final product and present, as he was always thinking of the next project. His new outlook in his creative process has allowed him to enjoy each collection individually and mentally process his creations. With a desire to learn how every kind of garment is created and understand the construction and materials, Charles focuses on understanding each project’s technical aspect and concentrating on small details. As he states, “perhaps my greatest success is constantly expanding my arsenal of knowledge in my craft.”
His motivation to continue learning stems from his domination of past design failures, and a desire to create a story through his work. Each piece he’s made can be seen as a snapshot or extraction from a period in his life. In many ways, he claims his fashion and art are a memoir and a stamp to his life’s journey, allowing him to keep a visual representation of a diary alive. He finds his favorite projects are those driven by passion. Continuing his goal to constantly keep learning, he used this past year as a form of exploring new avenues in the fashion world he had shied from before. Facing these new projects with apprehension but excitement, he was able to produce over 30 individual pieces on his own for his collection, ranging from corsetry to puffer coats.
As Charles continues his pursuit in the art of fashion, he’s excited to see how the industry has grown recently. “The resurgence of home-sewing and growth of eager creators/designers. There is a beautiful return to craft thanks to part in the sharing of knowledge due it social media. A lot of luxury clothing has reached an entirely unattainable price point and conversely, fast fashion is oversaturated with issues from lack of sustainability, quality, and ethics. I respect anyone who tackles this sort of craft.”
Like many of you, his love for sewing shows itself at that moment when you can see a project and design finally coming together. He understands those moments when it feels like so many things can go wrong, and they do, but he also knows something is rewarding and comparable when the garment finally starts to take shape and come to life. His advice to new sewers is to remember those moments when mistakes are made, to permit yourself to do so. Creating these mistakes is only a step in uncovering secrets that sewers can only find through trial and error.
We hope you enjoyed getting to learn more about Charles Lu with us!
Follow along on his journey with us and learn more about our designers at (ambassador website) today!