Archive for June, 2009

Polyvore: Eye candy

June 29, 2009

I love this site! It is so visually stimulating, and we in fashion always love great eye candy. Users mix and match products from stores and create visual boards. I love seeing how people put things together to create style. As someone who loves fashion but isn’t too concerned about my own personal sense of style, I look to these people to get a better understanding of how fashionistas put things together to express themselves, so that as a designer I can help them fulfill that aim and create clothes that they will love.

Apparently this is the web’s largest fashion community, I’m glad I discovered it now. Its kind of hard to keep up with all the new media fashion sites, but there are so many for a good reason – people just love them because so many people love fashion.

Thank you to the internet for making my job so much easier. Of course, nothing beats observing what people actually wear in the real world, but there is hardly an excuse to be a bad designer anymore with all the resources available today. Aren’t we lucky?

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What’s Gonna Go Down Here

June 25, 2009

Hi everyone! I don’t know what to write about today, so I thought I might write about what I am anticipating over the next year (and therefore, what you should anticipate reading about). Hopefully this post will allow you to get to know me more personally.

My fall semester schedule has been set, and I will have school from 9-5 2 days a week, which does not seem like a lot at all, but believe me, I’m already suspect of the amount of work that will need to be done. I am so excited I can barely contain it! To be able to work on a complete project from conception to market research to production has been my dream since I was 7 and I will finally have the opportunity to do it in a safe setting. I have a general-almost-specific idea of the market niche I will be designing for, but that will have to be fleshed out in the fall. You will see components of my market research, my inspiration and creative process, my design process, how the garments will be made, and maybe a little bit of marketing and PR. I would really love for you all to get to know me through my work and understand more of what a designer’s job is.

I will be doing a self-directed study component where I get to come up with a subject that I would like to study more in depth and create my own course based on it. I decided that it would be a great opportunity for me to learn more about and gain practice in my topic of interest: digital textile and print design. I love to learn, explore and grow, and I work very well autonomously, so this will be good for me.

I will also be going through the process of creating 2 portfolios, one online and one traditional format. I will share my tips on portfolio development as I go through this process myself. As of now, I have pretty much nothing to put in my portfolio because my computer crashed about a month ago. Remember that? Although truly, I believe that it has been a blessing in disguise.

I will probably also be continuing my part-time job in the bridal industry, hopefully 2 days a week. My job there has also progressed since I started. I won’t mention this job much or at all, but the insights I gain and skills I learn I’m sure will show through.

After all of it, I will be moving Fashion 2.0 forward (maybe time for some Fashion 2.1? haha) so that it becomes more appropriate for someone who will no longer be just a student. Maybe I’ll become a freelancer, maybe I’ll move to another city and add another internship to my belt, maybe I’ll get a full time position here, I may even start my own business.

Who knows?

Revisits, Retakes, and Reintrepretations Galore

June 23, 2009

I am always fascinated by spins, reinterpretations and juxtapositions. Although I think there is the idea out there that remakes and retakes are less creative because they are using old material and simply giving it a new spin, I believe that taking stories and concepts that are so ingrained in society’s consciousness and refreshing them is simply another facet of creativity, one that already has a built-in audience and has the ability to reach and affect more people (and also generate more money). Plus, isn’t this what we are doing with our clothes?

prideandprejudiceandzombies

This novel seems interesting to say the least. It could conjure up nightmarish fashion images (long white nightgown stained with blood) but I have to give props to whoever came up the idea.

Sherlock Holmes

Who’s this? Why, it’s Robert Downey Jr. as none other than detective Sherlock Holmes, also starring Jude Law and Rachel McAdams. Coming Christmas 2009. Can you already start to see the influence this movie will have on fashion trends?

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Tim Burton’s films are always a treat. Up next he’s revisiting Alice in Wonderland, a classic children’s story, and giving it his trademark. I could say so much about this story, but I’ll leave that for another post. I can’t wait to see the costumes in this film.

I ♥ You Click: June 22, 2009

June 22, 2009

I decided to change the format of my clickables column to focus more on delivering valuable content. This column will come less often but will feature what I view as content worth spreading. Because I don’t have a blogroll, I thought that this would be a great way to spotlight some of my favorite reads and clicks, both new and ones that I’ve followed for some time. Today’s edition has a common thread: creativity. Enjoy!

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Angel Chang’s Diary:

Just recently outed on Bravo’s The Fashion Show, Angel Chang (you can read my first entry on her here) writes a blog that gives some insight into a designer and innovator with sharp business sense as well. She comes across as real, creative and passionate about her work.

Behance Magazine:

Part of the Behance network, which is focused on providing services and products to creatives of all industries to make ideas happen. I love the philosophy behind this company and their mandate in helping creative people succeed in the world.

Katherine Soucie blog at ECUAD:

Designer and entrepreneur of Sans Soucie, Katherine Soucie decided to pursue a formal education at Emily Carr University, where she focuses on exploring the intersection between textiles, print media, and digital technology. Even though Vancouver is not a hotbed for textile innovation, the programs at Emily Carr and SIAT of SFU both integrate the possibility of exploring wearable technology. Katherine’s work is inspiring as she aims to bring a further dimension to textiles and fashion, not falling into the trap of viewing textiles as a traditional craft discipline.

Carrie and Danielle:

With a mantra of “Simply, Beautify, and Prosper”, Carrie and Danielle is written by Carrie and Danielle, creative entrepreneurs of Style Statement, who provide tips and articles on authentic living to appeal to creatives and professionals. (EDIT: After revisiting, I noticed that there has been no new content since February. Hmmm…)

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And if you are in the Vancouver area, this seems interesting. CreativeMix, taking place October 22, 2009, is Vancouver’s Ideation Conference. Sarah Bancroft, editor of Vitamin Daily and former Western Editor of FASHION Magazine, is fashion’s representative speaker at the event. There will be 11 other creative minds spreading their ideas at the event. Due to my upcoming fall schedule, I probably won’t have the opportunity to attend. I hope they release the talks online, like TED.

Musing: What is good taste?

June 15, 2009

Through a conversation with my boyfriend on a day lacking inspiration, a spark came to me and I started to explore the idea behind the Emperor’s New Clothes, a story we should all be familiar with. This 19th century fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen brings to mind several themes that are applicable to fashion. Although my original intention was to use this story as inspiration for a collection I would be designing for my portfolio, I became much more fascinated by the implications behind the story.

In the end, the young boy cries out that the emperor is not wearing any clothes at all. The emperor is not blind of course, but did not want to admit that he could not see these magnificent clothes because the tailors had said that those not fit for the job would not be able to see this beautiful fine fabric.

I’m interested in the idea of good taste as it applies to design and fashion. This article, Taste for Makers, by Paul Graham was an eye-opener for me – it is one of my favorite reads of all time.

I remember being younger and watching Fashion Television on TV and being unable to comprehend the beauty behind haute couture. I saw it as ugly and perplexing as to who would design clothes that people could not wear. Gasp, I would say now, understanding the purpose and wonder behind couture. But, if children are so innocent that their minds are yet to be tainted with societal and cultural ideas of beauty and fashion, then are they the true purveyors of taste?

I know that the fashion industry as a domain defines what is groundbreaking, innovative, and what constitutes good taste, but if they are the only ones who see the beauty in something, is it still beautiful? Whose opinion matters?

I think that for me, the best feedback is one that satisfies the industry, my instructors, my fashion peers, my non-fashion peers, my boomer parents, my 20-something guy’s guy boyfriend, my 19 year old kinda-interested-in-fashion-but-looks-like-every-other-19-year-old sister, and my 17 year old teenybopper sister who spends her time playing video games. I have often found that my desire to satisfy everyone makes it hard to achieve a consensus but makes me more sensitive and empathetic as a designer.

Creative Sketchbooks/Journals: Tips on the Process

June 10, 2009

Sketchbooks, journals, whatever you want to call them, are so important in a designer’s life. I find actually that so many disciplines could benefit from a creative record like it. It hasn’t always been an easy process to build and maintain this, so I want to share what I went through and some things I learned from my own journey.

Pre-Fashion School
I liked to draw as a kid. I liked fashion. I had determined at age 7 that I wanted to be a fashion designer. Throughout my childhood I did manage to pursue many different disciplines and explore a little bit of each before returning back to fashion. Throughout this period, I never managed to maintain an ongoing sketchbook. I drew some sketches now and then on paper and had them scattered in random places. I did, however, keep a journal for most of these years until grade 9. I’m not sure why I stopped, but I did. When I decided for certain that I was going to pursue fashion, I started keeping a sketchbook of fashion drawings. It was more of a way to practice drawing than it was to jot down creative ideas, in hindsight.

Fashion School: The Early Years
Keeping a journal was a part of the curriculum for design class. I think this time was an eye-opener for me about what sketchbooks/journals could be. It was more than just drawing clothes. It was about analysis and observation. I tried hard to keep my journal filled and useful, but soon it became a very limiting process, and I felt uncreative. My natural style in communicating my ideas is very organic. The example below (from my first semester) looked pretty, but it led me toward the path of analyzing other people’s work and what was going on around me without delving into my own creative well.

After a few more semesters, my design journal became more and more unstructured, which suited me much more. But, I realized that I had become lazy. My design journal started to fuse with my life and I couldn’t keep the two apart, further blurring my creativity. Soon, it became less a documentation of creative process and visual inspiration and more a dumping ground for random, uncreative thoughts.

I knew there was a lot going on in my head that could contribute to my life and work as a designer, but I couldn’t seem to get it out in a concrete way.

Now
I’m not sure when it happened, but eventually I realized a few things about sketchbooks and journals that I feel are helpful to share with others who may have struggled with the same things I have.

  1. If you are a goal setter who plans and writes a lot, think about keeping a separate journal for that purpose. I found that once I kept my day-to-day life and my creative life separate that I benefited from the clarity.
  2. Keep your mind open to ideas outside of your discipline. Everything influences fashion. Write about whatever seems interesting, but don’t write about your own life. Because I am a conceptual person, I analyze fairy tales and connect their themes to fashion. A great way to fuel creativity when nothing is coming is going back to one of your favorite things and connecting it somehow to your discipline, or figuring out the metaphor behind it. Remember, art is all about metaphor.
  3. Experiment with size. I went through many sizes and formats, finally settling (for now) on a 11×14″ coil sketchpad for my creative journal and a smaller 6×9″ notebook for my separate journal.
  4. Focus on your senses. Observe and analyze in the moment, it is always better than doing the same thing while looking at a magazine tear.
  5. Switch it up. Keep the pages fresh, try to add something new and different so that you are settling into the same creative boundaries. Even the way you record becomes a creative process. Near the front of my current sketchbook, I have a list of possibilities. Add to this list.
  6. Be messy. I’m messy on paper until it comes time to get everything together. I don’t have the time to care about neatness.
  7. You don’t need to finish work. Sometimes, the pressure of just having to complete something hinders your creativity. I have no problem now leaving work undone. This documentation is meant to help your creativity, not to come out necessarily with a book of finished drawings and studies.

I read An Illustrated Life by Danny Gregory, a great book that shows the inner workings of current artists, illustrators, and designers through their private sketchbooks. It was a helpful tool in allowing me to see how unhindered other creatives are. I aspire to that level of committment.

The only way to get good at something is to do it more. People tend to do things more when they are interested, and that is how experts are made. I’m sure that I’ll get better at finding my creativity through my sketchbooks and journals the more I work at it.

Why I Dropped Out of…Class

June 8, 2009

Earlier this year, I started to seriously consider the idea of traveling to London, England sometime during the summer to take a short course at Central St. Martin’s, one of the most prestigious fashion schools in the world. Last month, I decided to go for it, and booked a week-long class for August. I said to myself, I can’t back out now, the class is booked and paid for.

Except that I started to doubt whether or not the trip would be worth it, in financial and personal terms. I guess the lure of having a credential at a world-famous design school was what pushed me in that direction in the first place, added to the fact that I love learning and have the the intense desire to travel and experience different cities and settings. Many of my friends took trips to Europe this summer as well, making me feel even more trapped in Vancouver.

In the end, I decided to cancel my booking for several reasons.

I fell into the belief, like many others in my generation, that certain experiences and material objects are what define us, and to a certain extent, that is true. But, sometimes we let that override the things that should be important to us, and to me, those things are: love, passion, and freedom. In order to obtain and maintain these things in the life that I envision, it is a prerequisite that I be financially stable and that my personal finances are in order, and that cannot happen if I place my worth on an experience just to add this school’s name to my resume. There are many more experiences that are much more important to me than a week-long trip.

“Life is really simple, we just insist on making it complicated.” – Confucious

I could easily see my life become complicated if I forget about what is important to me and chase after a life that seems right or cool or interesting, although it seems that this is automatically the stereotype of anyone in fashion, and that if I do not subscribe to it that then I must not really be into fashion, or that it is the wrong career path for me.

It’s a strange thing to love fashion and be a designer while trying to live a life that goes against the very grain of what fashion now stands for. I sometimes find myself consciously having to pull back from the lures, but once I do, I find that I am not chasing an identity, but carving my own, and that is always a lot more fun and interesting, I think.

Now, to get to the things that will make a difference in my life: making small strides every day in developing my work as a designer, connecting to the whos and whats of the design world, and just enjoying the moments and moving one step at a time toward the future.

Considerations for Fashion Portfolios

June 3, 2009

When I first applied to fashion school, I made a portfolio. Now that I look back on it, I laugh/wince/think omg…. In 3 short years, I have come light years. Over the years, we have been asked to revise our portfolios. The last revision I did was about 8 months ago, which is the one we had to bring to our internship interviews. I thought it looked pretty good then, but now I see it as being obselete in showcasing my capabilities and experiences since my internship.

I considered a lot of aspects when developing my portfolios. For my entrance into fashion school, the focus was to highlight specific skills in specific sections to show that I met the criteria to get in.

Here are some shots of the portfolio I did about 8 months ago, roughly 3 years since my very first fashion porfolio. There are definitely things to fix and improve upon, which I’ve pointed out below each shot.

Criticism: too anal about layout, forgot to match SKU plan to flats, mood board and concept statement takes up way too much space over the actual designs

Criticism: Black background detracts from otherwise cohesive look of portfolio, I may want to think about taking the costing sheet out if I don’t plan on working in production

Criticism: the eye is drawn to forecasting illustrations instead of my own design, I’m not particularly fond of the design..

I think its really important to question what you are communicating with your portfolio. It was not enough for people to say that my layouts were great, because I wanted them to focus more on design, which was actually my fault, because I got carried out with designing the layouts. With this in mind, I decided to take a much more simple, minimal approach to page layout when revising my portfolio (which I am currently in the process of doing so). Especially after my internship, I have realized what I want people to focus on in terms of my skillset. And like it or not, a portfolio ready for Vancouver’s apparel industry will have a different focus than a portfolio aimed at making it in a bigger fashion city.

For example, if you want to focus on a well-rounded skill set to nab that job as a design/production assistant, then you probably want to meld your designs with costing sheets and SKU plans, etc. If you want to focus on textiles, then make sure you articulate that through actual fabric swatches and fabric descriptions. If you want to get a job working with a couturier of sorts, show hand work and illustrations. If your niche is merchandising, you probably need to include charts. Looking through my portfolio, I can tell that I am leaning towards a certain focus, but haven’t quite found that yet (at the time), so there are some things that seem misplaced. I can also spot major flaws and areas of possible improvement much more easily now.

As for my focus? Top secret for now, wait a few months, and you’ll see. 😉 I’ll also be working on an online portfolio as well.

The Showcase: Vector fashion illustration

June 2, 2009


#2, originally uploaded by annchingwang.

I’m not an illustrator, but I find that my fashion design portfolio is lacking the energy and pizazz that fashion illustrations could bring to my work. I spent half of today working on my very first vector fashion illustration, and here it is! I will work some more on developing my skill in this area, so stay tuned for more.

My process: Drew a quick hand drawn croquis, scanned it in, did the body, then the clothes, then added detailing. This is a very basic drawing, as I am just getting used to this. I want to somehow make my drawings more fluid and whimsical, as that more accurately represents who I am as a designer.

More to come!

Phase One: Identifying Niche Market

June 2, 2009

Kwantlen’s fashion design program requires as the focus of the 4th year, the research, design, and production of a line based on a niche market. The 2009 fashion show featured markets such as commuting businessmen, apparel for dog walkers, and business wear for short, Asian men. Traditionally, I have seen niche markets more commonly identified through demographics, statistics that can easily be quantified. However, I have always been more fascinated with psychographics as a starting point that affects and is affected by the likely demographics of a population.

In preparing for September, where we will start researching and presenting our chosen niche markets, I have already started to identify and narrow down what niche market I want to work with, which would fulfill the following criteria:

A) Align with my future career goals

B) Accurately represent what sector of the industry I want to work within

C) Challenge my current skillset

D) Have runway impact

E) Have real world relevancy

I have thrown out several ideas over the past few months, but there is a particular market that is close to me, and that seems to have taken a life of its own since I started noticing it. This new market can best be defined as the creative class. If you know about social trends, then you probably know about the creative class. A Whole New Mind is a book that urges people to move forward into the conceptual age. This movement is one that fascinates and resonates with me.

Not only that, but there is an extremely viable niche market here in terms of apparel needs that are not being met. Why? Traditionally, it is only people within extremely creative industries that can wear fashion-forward clothing – that typically means people who work within the fashion industry. Over and over again, I am noticing the differences between how the average person dresses and how fashion people dress. And then I thought, what is the point of making great clothes if only the people who work within your same industry can wear these clothes (otherwise, they must be a socialite). The rise of the creative class has given way to a great new sector of the market – people who have creative tendencies and appreciate well-made unique pieces, but who have the desire for functionality and practicality (something most fashion people overlook).

This group of people (designers, artists, writers, scientists, technologists, engineers) are fascinated with possibility and novelty, but need clothes that work for their everyday lives. They are mindful of details that add extra value to garment because their lives are all about appreciating innovation. Creative people make connections before the rest of us can – they can easily see how art melds into science, how design can be holistic. This market is underserved, where the rest of the consumer world is primarily overserved. We have fashion for fashionistas, and career clothes for people who work in corporate environments, yet we do not have anything that blends both and does it seamlessly. I can think of some RTW collections that would appeal to this market, however, I am looking to create a company that serves this market completely, rather than as an afterthought or by accident.

I always think of scientists who dress poorly or blandly (as that is pretty much the stereotype, and one that rings mostly true, I think), and the reason why probably has something to do with the fact that they are too busy to think about how to dress, they think fashion is superficial and dare not waste time thinking about it, and/or their creative minds look beyond simply aesthetics and therefore, they find it hard to fall in love with clothes, which, for the most part, are uninspiring. But, they have the capacity to appreciate and understand innovation, and the way to make it accessible is by making it functional and wearable, and thinking holistically about design.

This is a very rough description of the market I am identifying as my chosen niche market. Lots more research will be done over the next few months so that I know this market inside out. But I have my start, and here it is!