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From physics to fashion

By Wang Xingwei | China Daily | Updated: 2023-12-27 08:38
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Huang Qinqin, 29, a Chinese shoe designer. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Award-winning Chinese shoe designer, Huang Qinqin, shares her transformative journey, blending cultural heritage and international design to shape the art of practical wear.

In the 1988 novel The Alchemist by Brazilian author Paulo Coelho, a shepherd boy yearns to travel in search of worldly treasure, only to discover his "personal legend" — his true calling in life, which brings him happiness and fulfillment. This story has inspired numerous readers worldwide to listen to their hearts and, most importantly, to pursue their dreams.

Echoing the protagonist in the novel, Huang Qinqin, a 29-year-old Chinese shoe designer who recently won the Culture and Creativity Award of Study UK Alumni Awards 2023-24, has similarly found her "personal legend "along her academic journey in both China and the UK.

"The education I received in the two countries has shaped me into who I am today," Huang said.

The Study UK Alumni Awards celebrate the achievements of international students who have studied in the UK, and have gone on to achieve remarkable feats. Now in its 10th year, the awards have attracted over 1,450 applications from international UK alumni across more than 90 countries. The British Council announced the recipients of the awards earlier this month, with Huang being recognized for her outstanding contributions to the field of arts and culture.

"The experience of studying overseas has allowed Huang to appreciate the charm of multicultural exchanges. She started to explore and reflect on the concepts of culture and aesthetics," said Josie Zhang, Senior Marketing Manager at the British Council.

Since 2019, when she created her original footwear brand "ouvrir la boîte," Huang has left an indelible mark on the fashion industry. Her works have been featured in high-end boutiques, pop-up stores, and international fashion shows in New York, Milan, and Shanghai. Many of her shoe collections have adorned the feet of the new generation of Chinese stars, including Zhao Lusi and Yang Chaoyue.

Believing that the value of her products lies not in business operations but in the unique design philosophy itself, Huang always focuses on how to convey the stories behind her shoes to customers. "Design is like storytelling, a natural ability I possess," she said with a smile.

However, Huang's journey into design was unforeseen and it took her several years to discover her true passion.

Back in high school, Huang excelled in physics. So, when choosing a major in college, engineering seemed the logical choice. However, during her freshman year at the University of Nottingham Ningbo China in Zhejiang province, Huang gradually realized that this was not what she wanted.

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