The Same Feeling
Updated: Aug 5, 2019
But you are not a fish, how could you sense their happiness?
---- Zhuangzi, Ancient Philosopher's Walk along Autumn Rivers
It is a sad scene we try to depict
Since cruelty is pardoned by the law of nature
Beneath the banquet's joyful air and extravagant colors
Sorrow screams in thundering silence
The Same Feeling
Behind the Scenes
Fashion designer Darin Zhang has always been interested in the concept of sustainable development. In the past he has experimented with old clothes renovation and zero waste in his works.
In Darin's view, one should seek a balance in pursuit of sustainability. In the series "The Same Feeling" he is exploring the balance in the relation between people and our food. The balance can be achieved, in his opinion, by avoiding waste and consuming only necessities.
The advance in technology has empowered humans to be a super predator and such power has been abused. Although we seek prosperity, in certain cultures prosperity and affluence is manifested simply as consuming abundantly and showing no concern of waste.
To evoke change in this traditional mindset, Darin's work depicts a surreal world where the predator-prey relationship between humans and animals is reversed. While humans play the role of food, they try to sense the pain and the feeling of being powerless, comprehend their vulnerability in relation to the prosperity of the predator and reconsider the balance we need to seek when consuming food and resources.
Following our tradition, we asked Darin about his thoughts on his personal endeavours in fashion design.
Tell us a bit about your background.
I was studying womenswear in the Chinese city Hangzhou, which is known for its silk and textile industry. When I went to POLIMODA School of Florence as an exchange student in fashion styling, I felt that my knowledge was not sufficient to set up my own brand. So I continued to study in London College of Fashion to further develop my skills.
How did you get interested in fashion design?
I was born into a family with an artistic atmosphere. As my mother is an oil painter, all the paintings on the walls and furniture at home were created by her. So I became interested in art since I was a child. But I was not aware of the artistic language of fashion design until I accidentally came across a CHANEL haute couture show. Karl Lagerfeld’s curtain call was a very inspiring moment. This old man still had great passion for his work and regarded fashion design as his life attitude. I was deeply moved and wondered if I could find the same feeling in this industry, the feeling of belonging which enables one to spend one's entire life working on one thing, and the enthusiasm doesn't fade with the elapse of time.
What are the most important things you learned at London College of Fashion?
The biggest gain for me is that my perspective of observing the world has been broadened. And I have realised that there aren't any fixed methods for design processes, as many things can be changed.
For example at the research stage, even with the same inspiration everyone could look at it from different angles and their research methods may also take different tendencies. Some prefer to visit museums or libraries, some would carry out experiments in order to develop a personal feeling through the experience, and others may do a lot of interviews to listen to stories from different sides. I think the design process is a curve connecting initial ideas with the final result and these research methods act like different ways of navigation. The right navigation will lead me to my destination.
What are the challenges of your creative process?
The challenge for me is time management. I am good at developing ideas and often indulge in illustrating ideas and developing 2D graphics. So I have limited time to spend on production and experiments. As a result, a lot of my 2D ideas have not yet been translated into final garments.
For the "The Same Feeling" series in particular, I haven't implemented ideas for fabric transformation and would like to expand the collection to incorporate these ideas.
How do you develop ideas for your garments?
Developing an image into a piece of clothing is a continuous process. I first need to determine the texture of the fabric, which will influence my fabric choice for draping. Then I will explore different structures of a garment through draping and sample making. In this phase I will obtain details of changes to make and the final product could be different from the original illustration. The next step is to decide on the fabric for the final product, to make samples, and finally make the garment according to the modified sample.
Simply put, it is a process of trying and not to be afraid of mistakes. In a sense, there aren't any real mistakes in the design process, and everything that happens in the process has a reason.
What is the identity of your design? Which areas would you like to explore in your future projects?
Every designer will slowly find their preferences through their learning process. I like to call this preference the designer's DNA. I am attracted to the concept of sustainable development, fairy tale elements and natural elements, and I also like to explore innovative technologies. These elements will guide my future design direction.
* Collection images and interview content are credited to Darin Zhang. For curious readers who are interested in discovering more work from him, please visit @darinzhangdesign.
* For more work from model Erika Janavi, visit @erikajanavi
2019 London College of Fashion, BA Fashion Design of Womenswear
2018 April, Internship at David Koma
2016 Zhejiang University of Science and Technology, Fashion Design Womenswear
2017 H&M x London College of Fashion - UAL Designing for Sustainability
2016 First China (Shenzhen) International Ecologic Fashion Design Contest