How did you two meet? Wei Lin: “We met about eight years ago in New York, where we were roommates. [Mijia Zhang] was studying fashion at Parsons and I was a business consultant. I decided to quit my job to go back to China and work in the family business, a knitting factory not far from Hong Kong. I wanted to start a brand by using the factory’s technology so what I needed was the creative part and that’s why I called Mijia.”

What makes your knitwear different? Zhang: “We have a knitwear laboratory where we test a lot of swatches, we use a Japanese machine, the Shima Seiki – the best computerised knitwear machine – and we work with engineers to produce the pieces.”

Lin: “We design our own fabrics, starting from the yarns, so we try to push the boundaries with technology. We love [late Paris-based designer] Azzedine Alaïa because he developed his own knitwear and no one can copy his style and stitching.”

Niche knitwear label Cynthia & Xiao fuses Hong Kong, China talents

How do you work together? Zhang: “It’s quite seamless. Lin is the one bringing opportunities in and I work based on that. It’s like a dialogue. We go to business meetings together and when I design I also listen to her so I can make products that have a purpose.”

Why show at New York Fashion Week instead of Shanghai? Lin: “We met in New York and we’ve both been in the United States since we were teenagers as we did high school and college there, so we’re a perfect mix of East meets West. Our ambition is to build a brand beyond the Chinese market. We want to be a younger Alaïa, but not just for China, for the world, so it makes more sense for us to be in New York.”

How do customers react to the Made in China label, especially for high-quality fashion? Zhang: “The perception has improved but people still look down on Made in China, especially in the West.”

Lin: “When I quit my job to join the family business in 2013, I had the option to shut down the factory in China and relocate to Southeast Asia, where labour costs are lower. I’ve seen a lot of factories moving from China to cheaper places but, as the second generation, I wanted to do what the Italian factories did back in the day and become more specialised. We started our label because you can do high quality in China.”

Tell us about your collaboration with Lane Crawford. Lin: “The idea was to launch in the summer and show that knitwear is more than just a winter fabric: it’s breathable and light­weight. As a matter of fact, Singapore is our second biggest market after the US. Knits can be playful and fashion forward. That’s our message. It’s more than a chunky grandma’s jumper.”