Good things come to those who wait. Such is true in the case of Yang Li. Arriving on the world’s stage in 2011, the 29-year-old designer carries himself with the reserve of a time-honored veteran. Li was born in Beijing in 1987, during a time of cultural isolation in China. Li would remain in China for his formative years. While his father was a ping-pong player and member of the Communist Party, his mother left China three months after giving birth to her son; when opportunity arose for her as to work as a translator, she relocated to Perth, Australia. He would not know his mother for another ten years. He attributes his patience and work ethic to his humble beginnings. “What I take from that period is: Nothing of value comes without being earned,” Li said in an interview with The Washington Post.

From the start Li was met with obstacles, primarily in the form of language barrier and cultural disconnect. Li struggled to find himself, until he forayed into the world of action sports. He spent his teenage years playing basketball and skateboarding, which he considers to be his inlet into the world of fashion. To him, skateboarding was about style and expression; the way you wore your jeans, the graphic on your skateboard, were all powerful-yet-simple ways to show how you express yourself. Skateboarding gave him the opportunity to belong to a community, while remaining true to himself as an individual.

Follow Andrew on instagram here.