ZHUO is a New York Fashion brand for sustainable clothing and fashion accessories. It works/collaborates with people who come from different industries. The name “ZHUO” is a Chinese character with multiple layered meanings: polish, refine and think. The name signifies the opposite of fast fashion.
As the founder of ZHUO, sustainable design is something I will always pursue. I think sustainable fashion is more than just addressing fashion textiles or products. It’s about every step involved in the entire industrial chain —It has so many problems and needs more action.Zhuolin Liu, founder + designer of ZHUO
ZHUO: A CONVERSATION WITH ZHUOLIN LIU
How did your passion for design start and how your creative process work?
When I was in the middle school, my parents had a small garment factory. I used to go there during summer break. I had the chance to see how a garment is made. And I asked the adults, “Who decided to use this specific color? Who added this bow on that dress?” At that time, I didn’t have an idea of what designers do. What had really expanded my interest in design was the few projects I did in college. I was able to utilize all sorts of textile and material on my clothing and accessories projects. Metal scrap, acrylic board, wool, leather, it was a quite exciting.
I don’t have specific a formula for my process. But it usually starts with experimental research. Sometimes I start with a fabric experiment. Sometimes I start with color collages. Sometimes I start with researching a very specific social topic. I also like writing down my thoughts or key words in my notes to help me brainstorm.
Then I will be able to gather all different elements and evaluate through my own perspective, which is the most important part and it is also why I do all the research at the beginning — you may question yourself “why do I use vermilion but not crimson red?”
How do you think fashion industry is helping independent designers?
I know in New York here are some showrooms are accepting independent brands’ products and promoting them through social media channel.
Can you tell us a little bit about your references and inspirations for your garments?
I took inspiration from a latex-like, recycled, liquid plastic material I played with when I was a kid. I remember the fun of using this material to draw different shapes: star, flower, animals, and the shapes that don’t make any sense. You can actually draw whatever shape you want. Then you heat it at a certain temperature, and when it cools down it will become a rubber-like finish that will never make any wrinkles. When I was repeating the motion of drawing the shapes in my mind, the idea of “draw your garment” occurred to me. But then I realized that I need textures, a sense of touch. So, I asked myself: why don’t I throw the fabric scraps in the liquid? That’s how the whole textile design process started.
Can you describe your client’s personality in few words?
Confident and bold.
What do you think it’s your best-selling piece?
The pink top with ruffles. It’s a great option for evening party.
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?
Yes, definitely. Online platform brings a lot of exposures to the brand. It will be a great opportunity to showcase my work.
What does fashion industry needs more to grow up and what can be done better for this?
The online customer experience and customized products. Those will be the future trend and will be optimized, it’s just a matter of time.
What is the long term goal for you as a designer and what is the main mission?
Sustainable design is something ZHUO will always pursue. Our new accessories collection will come soon. In the future, I want to develop more techniques to incorporate different recycled/environmentally-friendly material in fashion clothing and accessories pieces.
What are the most interesting social platforms that can help your label?
Instagram and Pinterest are good examples to maximize the visual impression. A good quality of pictures and videos and boost your marketing campaign.
Can you tell us what is the next project?
Our new accessories collection will come soon. We are trying to introduce paper waste as a main material to our sustainable jewelry collection. We will play with precious metals and recycled material that the traditional industry would never want to or think about to do. It will be a fun collection.