Jeong-Hee Shin-Newstead’s label takes its inspiration from nothingness and the infinite possibilities that allows.
Jeong-Hee is influenced by this philosophy in her design, stating that "when there is nothing it allows for infinite possibilities". Her label, Mu, comprises minimalist designs that begin with a simple shape. The word 'Mu' means nothingness in Chinese.
Jeong-Hee graduated from Otago Polytechnic’s fashion programme in 1994, then worked in the fashion industry for a number of years. Her formative design years were spent with Zambesi and she also worked for brands such as World and Adrian Hailwood.
After completing graduate study, she taught fashion for a while before embarking on her own design career. These days Jeong-Hee works from a Dunedin studio she shares with Jane Avery of Lapin. Their designs are sold through their on site showroom and Mu is also presented via the collaborative Guild’s pop ups and website.
Mu offers trans-seasonal designs in deceptively simple shapes; softly structured dresses, tops, pants and skirts in mostly natural fibres. Jeong-Hee recycles kimono and other textural fabrics into her designs to great effect. Fabrics are cut to reduce waste to a minimum. Creating slow fashion rather than being bound by the calendar, and listening and responding to her customers’ needs are driving forces for her label.
While trends are always something to consider, "I’m not an island", the Mu aesthetic is more focused on the individual, with inspiration coming from the geometry of nature and material textures. The clothes are “challenging but ultimately wearable”.
Text by Jane Malthus.
First published February 2015, updated February 2019.