A Young Designer’s Path to a Personal Fashion Collection
As a fashion-oriented institution, FIT presents a variety of valuable and interesting classes that can aid a person in achieving their dream through diligent work and perseverance. Jade Lee, a young, 29 year-old designer who is a current student at FIT, has applied her knowledge from her academic experiences and to her dream: a collection that has walked down the runway at fashion shows worldwide and become widely recognized. Through FIT, along with much dedication and work, Lee has expanded her knowledge of fabrics and received feedback on her work.
Lee has always been interested in fashion design and has worked for various fashion companies such as, Oscar de La Renta, Brandon Sun, Diane von Furstenberg, Prabal Gurung, and for a designer in South Korea. In addition, Jade will start working for Proenza Schouler next semester to obtain experience. In 2012, Jade’s skills were requested to create garments that would be later used in a publication called, SHEI magazine. Eventually, the garments were interpreted into a collection called “Conceptual Work Since 2012” which has been featured in three fashion shows: Elements of Style fashion show, Noire fashion show, Bronze Elegance fashion show. In addition, Jade’s pieces were displayed at a showcase in Michigan. Lee’s shows have received positive feedback, with several buyers inviting her to participate in trade shows. The young designer does not hesitate to work with a wide range of materials such as leather, knit, quilted and stretch fabrics. The sense of combining various, utterly distinctive seems to pay off because according to Lee, “people can always recognize my work.”
When asked about what she is inspired by and what pieces that is reflected in, Lee replied with several examples. “The grey padded jacket and jumpsuit borrow imagery from crop circles. For example, the oval shape that looks like fabric trim resembles the outline of crop circles.” She used quilted fabric for the dark indigo jumpsuit with circular patterns. “The structure and shape of the red knit coat and dress were inspired by blood vessels,” she said.
The gold corset and bodysuit are standout pieces. Unlike the alien- and body-inspired pieces, these have a lighter feel. Lee said they were inspired by drag shows. “The pink and grey athleisure piece was inspired by Turkish painter İrfan.nürmen’s work, which I saw at the C24 gallery Chelsea in Manhattan,” Lee said. “I loved his use of color blocking and layers, so I wanted to incorporate them into my work.” The “Conceptual Work Since 2012” designer is also inspired by “unique objects and phenomenon” and by “memories from my childhood and the history of certain things.” Besides, Lee has also taken quite a lot of inspiration from FIT’s own courses. “FIT has very different courses than other schools,” stated Lee. Fashion schools tend to dictate what the designer has to create, however, at FIT, Lee is given freedom to experiment which inspires her the most. “Other fashion schools have thesis classes, so students make garments for the theme they have been assigned, meanwhile at FIT, we are making different, new garments in every class.”
Lee describes herself as a “designer who likes to try things people have never done before.” As any designer, Jade has her own favorite part when it comes to creating her collection. She always tries to “experiment with new materials, stitching and fabric manipulation techniques.” She expected the work for this collection to be challenging but she approached it with an experimental mindset. While trying to create a commercial collection that avoids copying existing designs, Lee is focused on communicating a cohesive theme throughout the collection.
A young designer, who has received recognition from the fashion houses and magazines she has worked for, as well individuals who follow Jade’s work on social media, has managed to transform her vision into a reality, while finding a creative approach to do so. Therefore, she has some advice to offer to other young designers who would like to start their own fashion lines and get their designs on a runway: “I always try to experiment with materials that others avoid using. Sometimes, people are worried about conceptual work because of sales. So long as your collection is coherent, people will appreciate wearing something that’s unique.” Stick to your own design aesthetic, and your effort will pay off.
In addition, Lee recommends using social media to network with other individuals in the industry. Personally, Lee attributes some of her success to Instagram. “After I posted pictures of my work on Instagram, my career started to take off. Several people reached out and offered me a place in their fashion shows.” The more she shared her designs, the more she received positive feedback and showcase opportunities. Therefore, if an individual is aiming to get their work out in the world, Lee said he or she should definitely stay connected and interact with their audience as much as possible. Staying connected is the golden ticket to the modern world of fashion, and Jade seems to get a hold of it.