The emerging market is a highly competitive game. Without high-quality, uniquely-designed, and reasonably-priced products, brands will hardly be able to break into the next wave of market trend, let alone being recognized and successful.

Founder and creative director of Forms, a contemporary designer brand launched in 2017, Tingting Mi was faced with what could possibly be the most-avoided dilemma by fashion designers – having your own design collide with someone else’s, especially when you’ve spent so much time and effort on it. Her “Fortune Cookie” bag collection, whose design echoes the shape of a fortune-cookie, looks fairly similar to Emma Charles’s dumpling-silhouetted “Lady Vera” bag that was launched in A/W 2016.

The Story Behind the “Fortune Cookie” Bag

With a modern touch of curviness, just the sleek design of the “Fortune Cookie” bag is enough to catch your attention. Behind this seemingly simple design though is a long journey of constant tryouts and improvements, and an optimistic attitude.

Inspired by an American artist and sculptor called Ellsworth Kelly, who was well-known for using visual language such as shape, form, color, and line to create a composition, TingTing wanted to create a product that embodies simplicity yet accomplishes strong visual effects. She adopted a similar technique to transform what started out as simply a concept of shape into this “Fortune Cookie” bag.

To her, the design is the most important aspect because it is what determines the individuality of a product; so that people can recognize it even without a logo. This is what she described as her lifelong pursuit. As a designer who is more of a doer than a thinker, she spent a lot of time and effort searching for the perfect combination; from the material used to the final design. For example, she had tried material from China, Germany and Italy – both traditional and modern fibre. She also constantly made changes to the edges, contours, and lines of the design. She would use various techniques like tailoring, reassembling and folding to discover new shapes. “After trying out more than 20 types of materials, a year of efforts, my product finally met my expectations,” she recounted.

The whole production ended up taking about a year to complete, which she described as, “the whole process was very tiring and tormenting”.

How to Turn Obstacles Into Motivation Boosters

“I was really shocked. I thought to myself: That’s it for me.” This was TingTing’s first reaction when she found out that her design was fairly alike to that of Emma Charles’s bag collection.

It is already hard enough to be successfully recognized in the market. As a startup business like TingTing’s, it comes with even more challenges before expanding to the market and the industry. It’s especially crucial for a startup to differentiate itself in order to stand out in a highly competitive market. To her, it’s all about the quality and the price. She values that her products are made with high quality as well as a reasonable price, which oftentimes, some of the big brands only have the former, if not, lack completely.

…TingTing sees her competitors as a reminder for her to keep trying and improving.

Many hours and rounds of trial and error being put into your own product, only to find out it collides with someone else’s! I could only imagine how hurtful it would be to anyone. But considering that she had spent so much time, effort and expectation on this project, she didn’t want to give up on this beloved product of hers. So she chose to take on this incident in a different way, “There are so many designers in the world, it’s inevitable that there are similar ideas. So what I could do instead was to push it to perfection and let time and the market decide if it should stay or not.” Rather than seeing it as a roadblock, she saw it almost as a motivation to keep producing high-quality products.

“I wanted to give the consumers more options of products. So I insisted on keeping this ideal of mine to produce more products that are uniquely-designed, high-quality, and reasonably-priced.” At the end of the day, TingTing sees her competitors as a reminder for her to keep trying and improving.

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