YKK to host virtual showcase for London Craft Week talent

Zipper manufacturer YKK is taking its support of emerging design talent to social media in light of the ongoing pandemic. While the YKK London showroom remains closed, YKK will host a virtual showcase on its Instagram to promote the creative students and graduates coming out of London.

The current exhibition in the window space at the YKK London showroom is dedicated to London Craft Week and highlights four exceptional designers from the London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London.

‘Crafting Ideas’ curated by Kei Kagami features graduates Keping Yan, Maya Christofori, Yuwu Liu and Huiru Yang from the MA Fashion Artefact and MA Footwear. Both Master's Degree programmes at the university highlight traditional craftsmanship, facilitating technologies and the exploration of storytelling in a contemporary world.

While the exhibition as part of London Craft Week didn’t go ahead as planned, YKK has displayed the work from these emerging designers in the window of their showroom, and now they are taking it online to celebrate the amazing graduate talent.

YKK will be showcasing each graduate on the London Showroom Instagram page [instagram.com/ykklondonshowroom].

Ahead of the virtual showcase, YKK asked the emerging designers to describe what differentiates them from other graduates, as well as the impact of going virtual, the importance of sustainability, and their advice for the next generation of fashion and footwear designers.

Keping Yan

Keping, a graduate from the MA Fashion Artefact course, makes contemporary accessories with bamboo and thermo shrinking plastic. Primarily concerned with craftsmanship and heritage, she brings together indigenous material in a swirling abstract language, illustrative of the hectic and haphazard industry cycle in her home town, in China.

What would you say differentiates your designs from other designers?

Well, as a material lover, all my project start from the material, I like to play and test with all kinds of materials and find different possibilities in my design. Like this project, bamboo is the traditional material from my culture, as a young generation of Chinese craftswomen, it represents my heritage, and the thermo shrinking plastic is an industrial material, but I use this in my jewellery design as a new and creative method.

How important is it to shine a spotlight on the craftsmanship of design?

Craftsmanship and the making process helps designers think and reflect on their design, helping the designer realise which part should be improved and help them to calm down and use their time to experience and understand these making processes and quality.

What has been the impact of the event going virtual?

To be honest, it is a little pity for me to look at these gorgeous crafts online virtually. As a viewer, I attended most of the show on London Crafts Week last year, I quite like to feel the real material closely and physically, and also enjoy the display of how they making on live. But I think it could be a new trend for exhibitions in the future.

What do you aspire to do next in fashion?

I got an offer from an accessories brand in Shanghai, China. I would like to try working as a designer in a commercial way, while I plan to start my own accessories business and hopefully have my own design brand in 2 years.

Why did you decide to become a fashion designer?

I think fashion is closely related to our daily life and our bodies. Through these designs, I hope people can better decorate their bodies, or I can show my design ideas through the body as a display medium.

How important is sustainability to your design?

Thinking of sustainability and recycling is one of the most important part in this project. In my design process, I recycled some spare units cutting from big pieces, and I weave them as a new design part. In addition, the main material in this project is bamboo, one of the most sustainability material in the world.

What does it mean to get support from a company like YKK?

I'm very grateful to YKK London showroom for giving me this opportunity to show my master projects works. As a young designer and a just graduated craftswomen, it is rare for me to have such an opportunity and platform to show my works. It can help me to publicise my design concept and let more people know my design style.

If you could share one piece of advice with a current design student, what would it be?

It always quite hard for a student to know their own design direction and favourite design style, but I think this process should be provided more patience, and more accumulate, and then they will finally find the direction they really interested in.

Maya Christofori

Maya, who studied for her MA Footwear at London College of Fashion, investigates how footwear can function in the experiential contemporary world of wellness in the form of meditation and mindfulness. Her ‘Freeze Frame’ collection of dancing shoes for the ballroom investigates the influence of footwear in relation to dance in its transition from fast body movements to static postures.

What would you say differentiates your designs from other designers?

My design process is always based on a deep investigation into a community, culture or experience, which I later filter and translate through my own aesthetics. I tend to work very intuitively, hence I do not exactly know what the outcome will be until the end. My designs always representing strong, emancipated characters based on personal experiences and interests. Usually, I tend to combine various materials and production techniques in order to create colourful and edgy shoes and garments.

How important is it to shine a spotlight on the craftsmanship of design?

In my opinion, fast fashion has its profound influence on pushing sophisticated craftsmanship skills into oblivion. As someone who has been travelling a fair amount on the ancient silk road through Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan I had a first hand glimpse of where rooted craftsmanship comes from and what it actually means: cultural heritage and quality. If we miss to hand over our knowledge to the next generation and stop questioning production methods, we literally may end up in a dead-end situation.

Also, there is no reason in pursuing a career as a designer, if you don’t know where your fabric comes from and how much resources are needed to grow the raw material, if you can’t tell apart a print from a woven pattern or think silk is vegan. Unfortunately, the focus on this important basic knowledge and skills sometimes gets lost, whereas the entire fashion education seems to shift to designing and presenting the collections.

What do you aspire to do next in fashion?

At the moment I’m working as a freelance footwear designer for a sustainable Berlin-based brand called Paprcuts. Together, we are in the process of developing vegan sneakers which will be produced in Portugal. Besides that, I recently started a collaboration with a dancer from Oxford, Gemma Peramiquel, with whom I will explore choreography, performance and dance through fashion, footwear and scenery. We hope to publish the documentation of this research by the end of this year.

For the future, I would like to consider working as a guest lecturer or tutor in renowned fashion schools, as I am interested in sharing my skills, knowledge and experience with determined students while staying in touch with the ideas and aspirations of the next generations.

Why did you decide to become a fashion and footwear designer?

I would describe myself as a hands-on persona, becoming a mathematician or philosopher was just out of question.

I started my career back in Switzerland with a three year apprenticeship as bespoke tailor with specialisation in women’s clothing. Here, I was trained in pattern making, draping, sewing and material research. In order to deepen this speciality, I proceeded with the BA studies in fashion design. There, I learned about accessories and footwear design and the complexity of leather crafts. The MA Footwear course at London College of Fashion, introduced me to a completely new field of crafting, material and machinery and allowed me to train my hands-on skills under the supervision of brilliant technicians.

Through all these years and experience, I now see education rather as an open playground than an isolated room with closed doors.

How important is sustainability to your design?

Nowadays, sustainability is written in capital letters - in my case, I am constantly looking into solutions for waste reduction by getting inspiration from people who are on a budget. ‘The less you have, the more creative you get’- is one of the maxims which I live on, saying that you should use what you have, repair, modify and up-cycle. I created a ‘living archive’, a physical library of materials and haberdashery, which I constantly feed with all the treasures I find on my way or get for free.

What does it mean to get support from a company like YKK?

Since the very first start of my career path, I have been working with YKK products. Imagining that I would get this great chance of displaying my work in their showroom in London would have been utopian to me back then. I feel deeply honoured and appreciate YKK’s work, commitment and support.

If you could share one piece of advice with a current design student, what would it be? Take care of your mental health.

Yuwu Liu

MA Fashion Artefact graduate Yuwu makes artefacts that that confront the idea of wearing posture, seen in her crossed leg pose piece, which highlights a path between the old and new, to bring ideas together from East to West, heritage and modernity, craft and industry, as a way of bringing the best the past into the light of the present.

What would you say differentiates your designs from other designers?

Reshape the body language in iconic art, and further innovatively define fashion artefact. Inspired by the longstanding craft and industry of traditional cultures, it represents a commitment to bridging the gap between old and new, east and west-in attitude. I believe that this bringing together of cultures is what sets us apart.

How important is it to shine a spotlight on the craftsmanship of design?

I think that understanding and familiarity with craftsmanship is a very important part of a mature design. While the design elements are innovating, the innovative fusion of craftsmanship will have more possibilities for successful production. The combination of traditional craftsmanship and industry is the most sought-after expression in my work.

What has been the impact of the event going virtual?

I think that in the future, virtual will be more and more integrated into our lives. As far as China is concerned, almost all industries will use virtual network platforms for product promotion and sales. This approach has increased the consumer market during the virus crisis. Converged virtual platforms bring great profits, and many craftsmen can also be understood and known by more people.

How challenging has the coronavirus crisis been in finishing your course?

I am very fortunate to be able to complete my work before the virus spreads globally. However, due to the virus crisis, my original graduation ceremony was postponed in July, and there are still some doubt about whether the exhibition in Stratford in November can be held as scheduled.

What do you aspire to do next in fashion?

I’m very passionate about fashion and craftsmanship, and I hope to have more opportunities to discuss with design forums in related fields. I’m currently doing furniture product design. Since I don’t define the attitude of fashion artefact, I plan to integrate fashion accessories and lifestyle products in the future. Continue to integrate traditional craftsmanship with modern industrial technology in my work.

Why did you decide to become a fashion designer?

Actually, I’m a fashion artefact and fashion accessories designer. In my undergraduate, I started to study jewellery design, and began to contact the design of three-dimensional products and I like history and art, these give me a lot of thinking about lifestyle. I’m more and more obsessed with conceptualising art and fashion to express with three-dimensional products. These products are not an object, but a carrier that can express my lifestyle.

How important is sustainability to your design?

In fact, sustainable development has always had important thinking in my design products. In terms of products, materials and production processes, we choose sustainable fabrics and production methods as much as possible. For example, I participated in the London Craft Week product, and the selected product is a sustainable and environmentally friendly vegetable tanned leather material. Every metal part can be split and can be applied in many ways.I believe Sustainable fashion is a process of change in the ways of thinking and practices of design, production, communication, wearing and enjoying fashion, that values diversity, prosperity and well-being of both people and the environment.

What does it mean to get support from a company like YKK?

YKK is an international, innovative and inclusive company. During my graduate, I participated in the joint collaboration project with YKK ‘zipper around London’, using the material of the zipper to redefine the meaning of ‘connecting’. This is a very good experience for me, and can give us young designers a good platform to promote design works. Hope to maintain long-term cooperation opportunities with YKK.

If you could share one piece of advice with a current design student, what would it be?

Make full use of the library resources of the school to build a good design logic. Learning more about the manufacturing process will greatly help your design.

Huiru Yang

Hiuru, from the MA Fashion Artefact course, showcases story telling with objects by making artefacts as a way to craft, narrate and illustrate storytelling. She utilises her animation background to produce 3D works to feature in her tales.

What would you say differentiates your designs from other designers?

I'm more interested in the story behind the creation of an object. The product is only part of the storytelling, a microcosm of a detail in the narrative. Series of interpretation and imagination of the story caused by viewing and touching objects is the difference that I hope to show in the design of my series. I want my product that connects virtual stories to real details, and that exists not as an end result but as a portal or intermediary.

What has been the impact of the event going virtual?

This sudden shift is as much a test as a challenge to the audience. The coronavirus crisis forces us to show that it must go ahead in virtual form. I prefer to get different feedback from the audience on this experience. “What are your feelings and comments about not being able to actually touch and see the entity?” This makes me feel very interesting.

What do you aspire to do next in fashion?

In the field of fashion, I will continue to explore how objects are more closely connected with people's memories and emotions. As a designer, you need to understand that the audience is responsible for the work. The creation of an object is never the end, but an intermediary. Our design is only a small part of the whole process. The development of fashion is never just about aesthetics. Fashion is a way to express people's identity, which means more.

Why did you decide to become a fashion designer?

The word fashion somehow means that people in the field are constantly thinking and trying to change something or trying to keep something. But no matter what, you have to have an idea. In this field, you will always meet people who love life more than you do, and remain sincere and curious in the process of taking on the challenge and pioneering efforts.

How important is sustainability to your design?

Very important! Sustainability is an important direction in the development of fashion design. More people want to show the lack of transparency across the fashion industry. Sustainable fashion design itself takes time to prove. It's not about deliberately seeking new things and materials to stimulate the demand for new products. It's about being serious about innovation and creativity. Sustainable design is not in opposition to fashion design in the past, but fashion fatigue is indeed a problem. Fashion design is not viewed as the latest must-have fashion item, but a complete cycle from production to experience. The product itself has value, the creator, maker, material, technology and feeling behind the product. The way the experiencer expresses identity. All of this means that we need to not only ask the designer where the inspiration comes from, but also understand the story behind it, which is what I pursue, the deeper relationship between objects and people.

What does it mean to get support from a company like YKK?

I really cherish and thank YKK for providing me this opportunity, which is a rare platform for every designer with design dreams. Every year, YKK provides a platform for young designers and enthusiastic students in their studies to show their works and ideas as best as possible. Can say is full of sincerity! The reason why YKK treats every young designer so seriously is also consistent with the philosophy that YKK has been adhering to. It keeps on trying and innovating in the field of fashion, keeping keen and curious! And it strongly supports the development of sustainable fashion design. They are really friendly to these young people who are eager for challenges.

What advice would you share with current design students?

Try to make your work meaningful. Prepare and select carefully and passionately. Make sure your product has value.

 

Related Products

 

Related news

MORE NEWS

 

LATEST JOBS

 

MOST READ