Bingjin Zhu is a graduate of F.I.Ts MFA Fashion program. During childhood, Zhu witnessed her dad, a dexterous wood sculptor, building traditional Chinese fictional characters and telling their stories through carving and painting wood while embracing their Chinese roots. Inspired by him, she grew up to be a storyteller of her own. As a designer, she starts her collections from a storytelling perspective, using unique coloring schemes and sculpturing of fabrics to reach her audience visually and emotionally.
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 models 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.
What is the first step when designing and getting inspired for a new collection or garment?
Before setting my mind on the general direction of the collection, I would think of what side of me that I want to express and what story from my journey of life that I want to express through the overarching design concept of my collection. Then I would picture my target audience, the crowd who would appreciate and in turn patronize my brand. After successfully deciding who my target audience is, I find a much smoother design process, as I keep my audience in mind. BING is designed for a specific group of people. I call them LADIES. Not necessarily from a gender perspective, I believe they are the kind of people who believe in soft power. My job is to let them know they are special, I met so many ladies in my life, they are vulnerable but powerful, they work hard, believe in themselves, and are very calm. I want to portrait and dress up this kind of people.
How important was adding heritage and where you came from in the inspiration for this collection?
To me, my collection is who I am, and who I am comes from my heritage, namely my parents, my hometown, my people. My mother, a typical Chinese lady, dedicated herself to her family and her husbands career. In my memory, mother would always smile and calm me down whenever shes upset or impatient. But behind the softness there has always been power - mother was the one who held the whole family together, through ups and downs. When building this collection, I was honoring a soft, yet powerful lady, her power of softness.
What sets your collection apart are using unique coloring schemes and sculpturing of fabrics, could you share your design process with us?
I grew up surrounded by sculptures in my family home, courtesy of my wood-sculptor father. These intricate figurines have had an enormous influence on my fashion aesthetic. 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. Similarly, my mother inspires my collection through her calming and soft mannerisms, reflected in my selection of fabrics and textures.
In order to emphasize this idea, I used 8 large pieces of horsehair canvas to set the foundation of structure, then I layered on with draping on models body. I chose jersey as my fabrics, as the softness of jersey could handle heavy duty horsehair canvas, demonstrating the power of jersey, the power of softness.
You describe yourself as a storyteller, how is it reflected in your work?
Personally, I love stories. Growing up I remember falling asleep by bedtime stories that calm me down. I hope I can bring the spirit of calmness to the world. As of now, the world is at 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. As a brand, BING celebrates the power of softness, the power of calmness, and we hope our belief and the stories of our inspiration can make people feel better. When it comes to storytelling, I want to tell the stories featuring the ladies, who overcame adversity, broke through barriers, and changed the world with their soft power and power of calmness.
How will you take your findings from this collection to influence your future garments?
BING does not have to appeal to the mass audience, as long as it is loyal to its niche of clientele. In the meantime, I want to keep optimising my process of production and operating behind BING for it to become more accessible and friendly to our ladies, who deserve a lot of credit for what they are doing.
CFDA / FASHION FUTURE GRADUATE SHOWCASE