Tania Cheng of Miss Runner explains the creative process behind the print-focus designs and collaborating with various global artists to produce diverse styles for each collection.
Tania Cheung is riding the wave of the athleisure movement with Miss Runner, her first sportswear venture. She’s fastidious about the detail as she delves into Hong Kong’s clothing industry with energy and creativity that is deeply imprinted in Miss Runners’ DNA.
When the young ballerina-turned-sport enthusiast graduated with a degree in fashion design from the London College of Fashion, her career kick-started working alongside Alexander McQueen, Mary Katranzou, and a number of manufacturers, before discovering a love for prints, and a passion for collaborating with global artists. Over a few emails we discussed with Tania on the creative process behind Miss Runner and collaborating with various global artists.
Have you always been interested in design and what attracted you to it?
I grew up loving maths and art- it was just something I was passionate about. With patterning, it was a combination of both because I can experiment with no limits. It’s always fun to develop an idea from 2D to 3D.
However, I moved away from the fashion industry as I was getting tired of chasing trends. With sports being my passion, I wanted to start to create something that would fit the needs of all girls on the go.
What led you to create Miss Runner?
After moving back to Hong Kong from the UK, I struggled to shop for reasonably priced high-performance activewear that is not mass designed. That was the inspiration to start Miss Runner in March 2015.
We strive at creating digital prints with a lot of meticulous details and logo-free designs with smart fabrics. We want everyone to be able to express their originality through prints, to move in confidence with flattering feminine cuts and move at ease from street to the gym, from the office to the studio.
What were the struggles that you had to overcome to establish Miss Runner?
The struggle came at the beginning due to the local market being limited. Miss Runner launched solely on E-commerce but the majority of local customers shop offline. So at the beginning, we threw pop-up shops frequently to gain trust and loyalty from shoppers. They could see the vibrant prints and feel the quality with the fabrics.
Where do you get the inspiration for your patterns each time?
The creative process of ours is different from other brands. We collaborate with various global artists to produce diverse print styles for each collection.
I value the beauty of collaboration as I get inspired through the sparks of creativity with the different artists I’m working with every season. They range from fairy tale illustrator to travel photographer.
For our Summer 17 Unicorn collection, we’ve collaborated with abstract oil painter Amelia Ha and digital pop art artist Jeena Reghab. We’ve blended in 2 distinct styles into wearable art experience for active girls.
What is your favourite project so far?
Each collaborative project I’ve done has been exciting, so I don’t have a particular favourite one. It is always inspiring to hear stories from artists.
One of my first prints named Time Traveller was inspired when by a range of B&W images. The exquisite details caught my eyes, so I got in touch with the photographer, Noel. He told me he brought home two Bettas as his travels influenced him.
He captured their underwater movement through his lens with a sophisticated touch. Each unique story of the artist will eventually spark my creativity in designing the corresponding print.
What has the evolution of Miss Runner been like so far since the launch?
We have been improving in a lot of perspectives – expanding our sizing offers, implementing new smart fabrics and technology into our leggings. We are also in the midst of expanding our brand globally to the UK market.
Are you concerned about the repercussions of fast fashion brands launching activewear line? Would you consider them a threat to Miss Runner?
Athleisure has become a huge trend in the past few years abroad and in recent year in Hong Kong. I believe each brand have their DNA and Miss Runner certainly has our own USP as well.
We fill in the market by offering one of a kind prints and trend setting designs combined with high-performance fabrics. Each product is a wearable art experience with exciting stories behind it.
We’ve noticed a lot of inspiring young women who wear Miss Runner. How have the influencers such as themselves helped with the brand’s image?
We love working with all sorts of fitness enthusiasts to show the quality and diversity of our products. A good pair of leggings should be able to serve all kind of needs such as running, yoga, personal trainers and dancing. When professional influencers share them while training or even just running errands in Miss Runner gear, it helps the public acknowledge the functionalities of our equipment.
Being a workout freak myself, my fitness journey and circle expands as time goes on – I get to do all kinds of crazy activities these ladies do as their expertise! Also, their feedbacks are extremely valuable and that’s how I improve Miss Runner’s range gradually.
Is there anything exciting we can expect from Miss Runner in this year?
We have just launched new staple items along with our S/S 2018 Gemology collection like lace up leggings, built in bra tank tops and travel mats. They’re made from natural tree rubber meaning they are 100% biodegradable as we want to encourage the world to get rid of slippery PVC mats.
How often do you work out yourself, and what sports do you enjoy doing?
Around 4-5 days a week. From yoga to boxing to just hanging out with my dog- that’s a work out when you have a whippet.
Lastly, is there a rule that you live by to keep you motivated?
Shoutout to Miss Runner’s tagline – Stay active, stay inspired.
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Edited by Lucy Bent