Royal College of Art graduate Jiaen Cai said he uses fashion as a medium to explore the relationship between conflict, chaos and order, adding that his approach to design is similar to playing with Lego.
“My collection is based on layers and components. These components are interchangeable, using my specially developed algorithmic modular system, which allows garments to be engineered to form individual expressions,” he said.
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“I am intrigued by sociology and technology. My brand J.E.Cai generates an opportunity for radical change within a controlled environment. Using this system, limitless iterations are possible by utilizing the fastening mechanisms provided on each base layer, component and extra component. The system also allows us to have a sustainable approach to fashion as new collection components can still match with old collection components, reducing the amount of waste created,” he added.
The Chinese designer will make his debut on Sunday as part of the British Fashion Council’s Discovery Lab scheme, drawing inspiration from Taoism classic “Tao Te Ching.” He’s given his base layers, components and extra components the numbers 10, 100 and 1,000, respectively to let the audience know the logic behind his garment system.
“Taoism founder Taozi explains how everything in the world is formed, from nothing to one, from one to many. My system follows the same ideology, from one system it breeds infinite possibilities,” the designer said.
Looking beyond fashion, Cai said he wants to expand his creative ideas onto other categories such as furniture and accessories.
London-based Brazilian designer Joao Maraschin defines his label as a “hybrid of Brazilian vibrant tropical origins and European experiences” and a community-led brand that’s committed to its environmental responsibility.
Maraschin founded the brand after completing his MA fashion degree at London College of Fashion in February 2020. He’s looking to apply an innovative approach to Brazilian traditional craftsmanship and work with new materials while looking at circularity, waste, repurposing and “human centered” design.
His graduation collection caught the attention of the British Fashion Council and he was originally invited to show as part of the BFC’s Positive Fashion Initiative. This season, he will show online with BFC’s Discovery Lab on Saturday.
The brand is targeting women older than 30 years old who are “cultured, connected to nature and live life effortlessly, women who are driven by having a positive impact through what they consume.”
His spring 2022 collection, “Imagined Communities,” focuses on clean silhouettes with rich textures made by artisans in Brazil: The collection includes handmade knitwear made from recycled fishing nets; colorful embroidery, and custom jacquards.
It is inspired by an imagined community that is born from a mixture of different people. “I thought of Indigenous, Black and white communities coexisting in harmony, where respect is the binding glue. Influences are seen on exclusive textures and highly detailed handmade embroideries,” he said.
Maraschin has partnered with the supply chain transparency solution provider Everledger to embed all handmade pieces in the collection with a microchip that registers the life cycle of the garment.
Thai designer Venice Wanakornkul launched VeniceW while she was working in New York after graduating from Parsons School of Design in 2018.
Now based in London, Wanakornkul refers to the brand as “Sci Fi-Linen,” a type of “imaginative fiction involving magic and linen fashion.”
“I am impressed by how linen was so pure and holy in ancient times. For example, the Bible says ‘angels wear linen’ (as well as priests), and if you dig into it further, you would find that linen garments were a well-respected material of all times, as they are worn at religious and royal ceremonies, weddings and funerals. Today, linen fashion is easy to access and a little bit on the boring side. I vibe with this challenge, and want to bring back linen’s magic for the 21st century,” she added.
She said the brand aims to target people with wild imaginations, who “also have a weak spot for cute animals.”
“We stand by our slogan ‘Be friends with your clothes!’ We create fashion objects to improve emotions, reduce stress, reduce loneliness and increase happiness,” she said. “We wish our audience to be happy. We offer a different point of view about human relationships with clothes. It is a funny business when clothing is advertised as a tool to empower the wearer, but we think it perhaps should be the opposite. We humans should be the ones who give clothes their magic.”
For the latest collection, the brand is using patchwork to shape the garments’ silhouettes “into a tree-like shape.” She said some of the orb shapes look like poodle’s hair, while others resemble trimmed hedges.
The brand is also releasing edible-looking accessories such as bags shaped like chicken nuggets or potatoes. The brand will present the new collection online Sunday morning with Discovery Lab.
Founded by self-taught stylist Kai Cornwall and Central Saint Martins trained textiles and visual artist Ellen Critchley, the gender-neutral label British Mustard is presenting its first collection, “Incipience,” as a part of London Fashion Week’s Discovery Lab scheme.
The duo said the concept aims to represent how the brand “represents slowly gaining empowerment and equality throughout the world, and the fashion industry.”
Inspired by hidden icons throughout Black history, each garment is viewed as “an archival piece of armor that museums forgot to show to the world,” according to the designers.
“The collection takes us through a journey of print-based and textural sleek and playful clothing. Each piece is a dedication to a significant event, time or a person who helped to fight for change and racial equality,” the duo added.
The designers created a textural pattern based on plant cells and blood vessels inspired by their research into 18th-century colonial plantations. The brand will showcase digitally with BFC’s Discovery Lab on Saturday morning.
Jennifer Droguett, creative director of Anciela, described the brand as “the culmination of the Latin folklore, craft and rich experiences of a childhood, combined with an outsider’s perspective gained from leaving the homeland and living in London.”
Droguett said the brand not only offers reworked tailoring and ready-to-wear collections, but it is also a creative platform that showcases Latine creatives in London.
“We want to bring new narratives, inspired by a rich culture that is often exoticized and underrepresented. I want Anciela to be a tool that can trigger positive change,” she added.
Making its LFW virtual debut on Monday with Discovery Lab, the new collection takes inspiration from arpilleras, or patchwork pictures made mainly by women. They became a symbol of protest and political activism in Chile in the ’70s, and a means of healing from trauma.
“The arpilleras depicted the stories of vulnerable women in Latin America and artists such as Violeta Parra. The technique was humble and conscious by using available materials, in most of the cases leftovers from old clothes and fabric scraps. In the collection, they are made with fabrics scraps from production,” she said.
Inspiration also came from Victorian cyclists and the story of Droguett’s family’s passion for cycling.
“Women’s cycling in Victorian times offered ingenious ways to modify women’s wardrobes by using channels, straps and buttons to adjust the lengths of their skirts. The prints are made with collaged and embroidered family photos, as my grandfather and father were both professional cyclists.”
Since the age of nine, Droguett said she has been upcycling her mother’s old clothes and turning them into unique pieces. “With every garment I make, I try to transmit that feeling of joy that I felt as a child, and to give a piece that people can love and keep,” she said.
That upcycling approach continues at Anciela. For spring 2022, the label partnered with the textile start-up Esce-tex by using deadstock Tencel and recycled cotton jerseys. It also developed jacquards using recycled cotton and fibers from post-consumer waste in collaboration with textile designer Alice Timmis.
Royal College of Art 2019 graduate Katharina Dubbick said she wants to create “empowering knitwear for the modern world.”
Based in Berlin, the brand specializes in fine-gauge knitwear with an eco bent. According to Dubbick, the brand targets young professionals between the ages of 18 and 45 who live in large cities and are a part of a cultural scene.
“They are looking for something different than what they know so far. They indulge in levels of hedonism and enjoy nightlife, clubbing and cultural activities,” she added.
The designer decided to start her own brand last year with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic since there were hardly any job opportunities for a knitwear designer.
“It encouraged me to do my own thing. I felt like I had nothing to lose,” she added.
The spring 2022 collection, “Skinship,” was inspired by a pseudo-English Japanese word that describes the intimacy between a mother and a child, and explores the intimate relationships that can arise through skin contact between two people. She also references sculpture works by Hans Arp and Henry Moore for silhouettes.
The brand will make its LFW debut digitally Tuesday morning with BFC’s Discovery Lab scheme.
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