FUTURE TALENTS: A TALK WITH JUSTIN CHI

Justin Chi is a Taiwanese designer who focuses on user experience and functionality in fashion design. As an attentive observer, he is inspired by the curiosities and queries of things that we are familiar with, and how they integrate into the life of the user. Through various types of research and production processes, such as repeated experiments and collaboration, he emphasizes the forgotten detail in a simple way.

He has also extended this approach to human-centered design to the context of the medical industry, through the Medical Wearable Devices Design project held by Taiwan Chang Gung Memorial Hospital. His role was to determine the needs that patients, doctors, and nurses expressed regarding their hospital apparel, and developed an integrated design solution to remedy the various issues they faced. He brought his expertise in pattern making to improve the convenience of the existing range of hospital apparel. During graduate studies at FIT, he also worked with the US Cerebral Palsy Foundation, developing an accessories collection for people with disabilities based on the human-centered solutions. His designs are informed from observation and integration, not just focusing on problem solving. From personal research to cross-disciplinary collaborations, he establishes his own design methodology which centers around the target user joining the design process to tell a story.

Justin Chi holds an MFA in Fashion Design from Fashion Institute of Technology and a BA in Fashion Design from Taipei – Shih Chien University. His professional experience includes Calvin Klein Performance and 3.1 Phillip Lim menswear collection.

A TALK WITH JUSTIN CHI ABOUT HIS FIRST COLLECTION PUT ON–TAKE OFF

Describe yourself as creative and how your label was born? 

During graduate studies at FIT MFA Fashion Design program, I focused on exploring user experience and functionality in fashion design. After that, I try to perceive and continue to create stories through my own label with playful outfits.

How do you manage the creativity process exactly as it’s really challenging nowadays in fashion industry for emerging labels? 

I completed my graduate design collection and school final semester during the pandemic. In the face of insufficient resources and equipment, I simplified the silhouette and production process of the garment. Each look is stitched back and front like paper dolls, and the finishing of serrated edges has also become the brand’s iconic detail.

What is the most challenging issue in being an independent designer? 

How to make the brand grow steadily and sustainably instead of just a flash in the pan.

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

It’s easier to directly reach out to potential audiences and build connections.

How do you manage to choose your models in order to better spread the diversity issue through your label?

In the design and fitting process, collection prototypes are no longer developed on the standard size mannequin. Flat garments blur the silhouette of different body sizes. 

What do you think is the biggest challenge regarding sales + fashion buying for you as a label?

Currently the pre-order sale is adopted by the label. How to control cost, product quality and shipment speed under a reasonable time schedule is the main challenge.

How do you think your label can play an important role in your daily client’s life?

Bold colors and playful iconic details bring happiness to the wearer’s daily life.

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

The consumers can shop without the restrictions of time and space nowadays, also receiving more information than before. As an independent designer, how to find the right target audience and accurately convey the brand story is even more important and challenging.

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

Insisting on your own ideas and doing your best.

<PUT ON – TAKE OFF>

People dress up for protection, aesthetic, etiquette, self-expression…, various reasons, every day. We consider the appropriation of styles and fitness, but do we observe the ways and the processes of “putting on”?

To complete a dressing process, the body interacts with different fasteners. The actions could be conducted by moving fingers, bending arms or straightening legs. The fasteners could be buttons on shirts, zippers in pants, snaps on denim jackets, and so on. Through the combination of these objects and body actions, each piece of fabric not only connects together but also moves closer to our body. Then, we unfasten all these objects, taking off the garments that are covering our skin and putting on another one. It is an endlessly daily ritual of putting on and taking off.

Could the familiar actions we repeat on a daily basis be different? Could where fasteners appear on garments be altered? What is the difference between each individual’s habits and actions? Between putting on and taking off, how do our bodies benefit from the process of dressing that we are used to. Is every step still necessary and functional? Or are we just numb with the routine?

Based on my studies on user experience, I explore the relationships between everyday fasteners, user actions and clothing structure. In a playful way, like the scale transformation and implied device, I magnify the moment actions when manipulating different placements of the garments and making the wearing process become more interactive. I try to arouse our consciousness to the subtle details that most people seldom notice in everyday life.

CREDITS

FASHION DESIGN & ART DIRECTOR Justin Chi @justinmengzhechi

EDITORIAL PHOTOGRAPHER + FILM Boyang Hu @boyang_h 

STILL LIFE PHOTOGRAPHER Duke Wiin@dukewiin

MODEL ABOUBACAR FOFANA FROM @SKORPIONMGMT MODELING AGENCY

MAKEUP Emma Ando @EMMAKEUP1102

PHOTO ASSISTANCE Yihsuan Sung @YIHSUAN_SUNG  

Jieyang Lin @BUTTERNYC_PHOTO

HYPERLINKS

https://www.instagram.com/justinmengzhechi/

https://www.justinmengzhechi.com/

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JUSTIN CHI

<PUT ON-TAKE OFF>

People dress up for protection, aesthetic, etiquette, self-expression…, various reasons, every day. We consider the appropriation of styles and fitness, but do we observe the ways and the processes of “putting on”?