British fashion has found a new champion in Wendy Yu, a young Chinese investor with deep pockets and a passion for design.
Over the past year she’s taken a stake in Mary Katrantzou, helping to expand that label in China, and in Cefinn, Samantha Cameron’s clothing brand that launched in 2016. Her other British investments include Bottletop, the sustainable accessories brand founded by Cameron Saul, and Fashion Concierge (formerly known as ASAP54), a fashion-sourcing app with integrated image recognition functionality.
Next up is a collaboration with the Olympia Le-Tan brand for Chinese New Year. It consists of nine limited-edition clutch bags adorned with the covers of Chinese literary classics including “Little White Rabbit,” one of Yu’s favorite childhood books.
Yu acts as a bridge for Western brands looking to plant their flags in China, and she certainly knows about cross-cultural exchanges: Yu grew up in China and was educated at an English boarding school. She has a degree in fashion management from London College of Fashion, and has completed executive programs at the universities of Cambridge and Oxford, and at Columbia University in New York.
Her mother is a private investor and her father is a self-made industrialist, the founder and owner of Mengtian Group, the biggest manufacturer of wooden doors in Asia. Yu, a mathematics whiz, is that company’s vice-chair in addition to overseeing her portfolio of businesses, Yu Holdings, and investment division Yu Capital. The latter, launched in 2015, specializes in investments in the technology, lifestyle and fashion sectors. Its aim is to accelerate brand growth via strategic consultancy and capital.
“I not only see myself as an investor, but as an entrepreneur, adding creative values to special projects, offering advice and making introductions,” she said.
Yu is also a member of the British Fashion Council Trust, which advises emerging brands, and of the Young Patrons Circle at the Victoria & Albert Museum.