FUTURE TALENTS: BING. – SOFT SCULPTURE

Bingjin Zhu is a graduate of F.I.T’s MFA Fashion program. During childhood, Bing witnessed her dad, a dextrous wood sculptor building traditional Chinese fictional characters.

Inspired by her father, a sculptor in his local community, Bing was interested in the idea of interaction and interchangeability between 2D and 3D formats. As a fashion designer, Bing sees her designs in the format of 3D sculpture, as wearing of the 2D cloth­ing pieces serves as the most natural 2D-to-3D transformation process. 

Bing’s mom, a typical Chinese lady, dedicated herself to her family and her husband’s career. In Bing’s memory, Mom would always smile and calm her down whenever she’s upset or impatient. But behind the softness there has always been power – Mom was the one who held the whole family together, through ups and downs. When building this collection, Bing was honoring her soft, yet powerful mom, her power of softness.

SOFT SCULPTURE

To honor her mother, and the power of softness that she stood for, Bing selected jersey and horsehair canvas as the main textiles used in this collection. Softness, and closeness to wearers that jersey creates is supported by horsehair canvas which brings structure, support and function to the tailoring of the clothes, resonating with the theme of this collection. Inspired by her father, Bing focused on the idea of interaction and interchangeability between 2D and 3D formats. As a fashion designer, Bing sees her designs in the format of 3D sculpture, as wearing of the 2D clothing pieces serves as the most natural 3D transformation process. 

In order to emphasize this idea, Bing used 8 large pieces of horsehair canvas to set the foundation of structure for her clothing, then layered on with draping on model’s body. Bing then chose jersey as her fabrics, as the softness of jersey could handle heavy duty horsehair canvas, demonstrating the power of jersey, the power of softness.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH BING.

Describe yourself as a designer and how did you start? 

I started off my journey in fashion as a pattern maker. As a pattern maker, I learned to build a photographic memory and a visual way of picturing the world. One day I was sewing a jacket, I tried to change the shape and color of the pockets and collar. But it turned out really bad. That was the moment when I realized how important composition was, and I should not only know how to make clothes but also know how to make clothes beautiful while functional.

How do you manage the creative process exactly?

I usually start my design process by making, I think this is really relative to my pattern making background. I am always thinking about my garment in a 3D way. My latest work is called soft sculpture. The inspiration for this collection is from my family. Inspired by my dad who is a wood sculptor, I was interested in the idea of interaction and interchangeability between 2D and 3D formats. As a fashion designer, I see my designs in the format of 3D sculpture, as wearing of the 2D clothing pieces serves as the most natural 2D-to-3D transformation process.

What was your first job out of college, and how did you land that position? 

I do not want to talk about my first job, but I would like to talk about my current job.

I am working in The Row right now, as other young recent graduation, I am also starting my career from the bottom, I have been in different luxury fashion brands in New York, such as Mansur Gavriel. I am learning a lot from what I am doing and I think it is really lucky for me to have an opportunity during the pandemic.

What was the biggest rookie mistake you made when just starting out?

I made so many mistakes when I just started out, I think language is really influencing how I talk and who I am right not, cause I am not a native English speaker, it takes me much more time to explain things and understand things than others, I even remember the first time I made a call in a company, I started like, hi I want to go to your office and take a look at your swatches. It was a really awkward moment. Then I started to mimic others’ behavior and try to be more professional. But I believe a lot of immigrants experienced what I have been through and I really appreciate those people who tolerated me. Cause that was rude and I didn’t mean to behave like that.

What’s the main impact of social media in the fashion industry in both ways, fashion buying and brand marketing?

Social media is creating a great platform for young designers like us. As a young brand, we do not have many resources and it is really hard for us to reach out to buyers and be able to sell our clothes in stores, especially during the crisis. We mainly feature our work on Instagram and other platforms like CFDA, they provided a wonderful opportunity for the great support and we are being recognized by people thanks to that, I really hope BING’s concept can reach out to the ladies I am inspired to and I hope my idea can comfort them a little bit. 

What is your favorite and NON-favorite part about being part of the fashion industry?

I really like the idea that we can transfer ideas, concepts, voice into products, and by selling our products. We comfort people and inspire more people in a way. I also like the perfectionist of fashion designers, looking at every single detail and care about a tiny seam, a single stitch, in order to generate the most perfect product for our customers.

I don’t like the fast pace of the fashion industry, you always need to run, no time to stop, you have no time to really think and to relax, so many seasons and so many products, it is too overwhelmed and I think the crisis is bringing this questions up and fashion brands are realizing and trying to rethink about the industry.

Can you tell us how your brand makes a difference in the fashion industry?

I believe in people, and I design for a specific group of people, I call them Ladies, but it is not from a gender perspective, Ladies are the kind of people who believe in the power behind softness. I met so many ‘ladies’ in my life, they are vulnerable yet still powerful, they work hard, they support the family through ups and downs, they are not typically labeled as a powerful person, they are the unsung heroes who have been consistently supporting and strong. This is a group of people I want to use each piece to portrait and reflect both the softness and power of Ladies. This balance between youthful freedoms and adult ambitions, strong and gentle femininity is reflected in the unique combination and usage of specific textiles I select. As a brand, we are inspired by the Ladies, working with the Ladies and using aesthetically and functionally appealing designs for the Ladies. Part of profits from BING goes to support Womankind NYC.

What do you think is the biggest challenge for a fashion designer?

These days, I think how to make your people comfortable is the biggest challenge, The world is in crisis, people are scared, anxious, and vulnerable. I think it is really important for us to go back to the exercise of learning how to be calm and believe in ourselves, no matter what kind of jobs we are doing, which positions we are in. As a brand, we celebrate the power of softness, the power of calmness, and we hope our belief can make people feel better. I hope I can bring the spirit of calmness to the world of fashion.

What do you think about the opportunity of selling your collections online nowadays?

We are already selling our collection in different online platform now, for example the website https://origin-of.com/ we have our products in their market place, 10%profits go to Womankind, it is a platform that empower woman’s right. 

Imagine that you must write a letter yo your FUTURE SELF. What would you write?

I think I  will tell myself the same thing as I am saying to our LADIES, you should believe in yourself, no matter what you are doing, which position you are. Stay calm, keep going and be strong.

CFDA / FASHION FUTURE GRADUATE SHOWCASE

https://cfda.com/programs/designers/fashion-future-graduate-showcase/future-graduate/bingjin-zhu

BING.