Justin Chi is a Taiwanese designer who focuses on user experience and functionality in fashion design. As an attentive observer, he is inspired by the curiosities and queries of things that we are familiar with, and how they integrate into the life of the user. Through various types of research and production processes, such as repeated experiments and collaboration, he emphasizes the forgotten detail in a simple way.
He has also extended this approach to human-centered design to the context of the medical industry, through the Medical Wearable Devices Design project held by Taiwan Chang Gung Memorial Hospital. His role was to determine the needs that patients, doctors, and nurses expressed regarding their hospital apparel, and developed an integrated design solution to remedy the various issues they faced. He brought his expertise in pattern making to improve the convenience of the existing range of hospital apparel. During graduate studies at FIT, he also worked with the US Cerebral Palsy Foundation, developing an accessories collection for people with disabilities based on the human-centered solutions. His designs are informed from observation and integration, not just focusing on problem solving. From personal research to cross-disciplinary collaborations, he establishes his own design methodology which centers around the target user joining the design process to tell a story.
Justin Chi holds an MFA in Fashion Design from Fashion Institute of Technology and a BA in Fashion Design from Taipei – Shih Chien University. His professional experience includes Calvin Klein Performance and 3.1 Phillip Lim menswear collection.
FASHION DESIGN & ART DIRECTOR Justin Chi @justinmengzhechi
EDITORIAL PHOTOGRAPHER + FILM Boyang Hu @boyang_h
STILL LIFE PHOTOGRAPHER Duke Wiin@dukewiin
MODEL ABOUBACAR FOFANA FROM @SKORPIONMGMT MODELING AGENCY
MAKEUP Emma Ando @EMMAKEUP1102
PHOTO ASSISTANCE Yihsuan Sung @YIHSUAN_SUNG
Jieyang Lin @BUTTERNYC_PHOTO
A CONVERSATION WITH JUSTIN CHI ABOUT HIS FIRST COLLECTION PUT ON-TAKE OFF
How did your passion for design start and how your creative process work?
My enthusiasm for design comes from my childhood memories, watching my mom turning ordinary fabrics into exquisite clothes by sewing machine.
As an attentive observer, I am inspired by the curiosities and queries of things that we are familiar with, and how they integrate into the life of the user. Through various types of research and production processes, such as repeated experiments and collaboration, I emphasize the forgotten detail in a simple way.
Can you tell us a little bit about your references and inspirations for your garments?
The inspiration came from my curiosities and queries of daily wearing actions — PUT ON and TAKE OFF. Could the familiar actions we repeat on a daily basis be different? Could the locations of fasteners on garments be altered? What is the difference between each individual’s habits and actions? Between putting on and taking off, how do our bodies benefit from the process of dressing that we are used to? Is every step still necessary and functional? Or are we just numb to the routine?
I explored the relationship between everyday fasteners, user actions and clothing structures, based on my studies of user experience. In a playful way, like with the scale transformation and implied device, I magnified the actions while manipulating different placements of the garments and making the wearing process become more interactive. I tried to arouse our consciousness with subtle details that most people seldom notice in everyday life.
Can you describe your client’s personality in a few words?
Boldness, Curiosity and Playful.
What do you think it’s your best-selling piece?
Assembling trench coat. Each look in my collection includes an assembly instruction book, garment, plastic handle and screws — just like an IKEA furniture package. People can follow the steps to make their own garment and change the adjustable handle to what they prefer — not only involving the user in the design, but also making the wearing more interesting and playful.
What do you think about the opportunity of selling your products on online platforms, you think it might be a good showcase for your work and your future?
Nowadays, the consumers can shop without the restrictions of time and space, also receiving more information than before. As an independent designer, how to find the right target customer and accurately convey the brand story is even more important and challenging.
What does the fashion industry need more to grow up and what can be done better for this?
Being conscious of sustainability and inclusiveness.
In the process of developing collection prototypes, I worked with FABSCRAP, an NGO based in New York. Through volunteering ways exchange all the collection sample materials, minimizing the purchase of new fabric and revaluing the scraps.
What is the long term goal for you as a designer and what is the main mission?
Through the collection to present my universe also bring reflection and influence to the audience.
What are the most interesting social platforms that can help your label?
Can you tell us what is the next project?
Through 3D software to present the collection’s interactive concept.
<PUT ON – TAKE OFF>
People dress up for protection, aesthetic, etiquette, self-expression…, various reasons, every day. We consider the appropriation of styles and fitness, but do we observe the ways and the processes of “putting on”?
To complete a dressing process, the body interacts with different fasteners. The actions could be conducted by moving fingers, bending arms or straightening legs. The fasteners could be buttons on shirts, zippers in pants, snaps on denim jackets, and so on. Through the combination of these objects and body actions, each piece of fabric not only connects together but also moves closer to our body. Then, we unfasten all these objects, taking off the garments that are covering our skin and putting on another one. It is an endlessly daily ritual of putting on and taking off.
Could the familiar actions we repeat on a daily basis be different? Could where fasteners appear on garments be altered? What is the difference between each individual’s habits and actions? Between putting on and taking off, how do our bodies benefit from the process of dressing that we are used to. Is every step still necessary and functional? Or are we just numb with the routine?
Based on my studies on user experience, I explore the relationships between everyday fasteners, user actions and clothing structure. In a playful way, like the scale transformation and implied device, I magnify the moment actions when manipulating different placements of the garments and making the wearing process become more interactive. I try to arouse our consciousness to the subtle details that most people seldom notice in everyday life.
PUT ON-TAKE OFF