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.
INTERVIEW WITH JUSTIN CHI X TREND PRIVÉ MAGAZINE
How your label was born and how does position itself on the international market?
During graduate studies at FIT MFA Fashion Design program, I focused on exploring user experience and functionality in fashion design. After that, I try to perceive and continue to create stories through my own label with playful outfits.
What do you think was the biggest challenge for you during the pandemic situation?
I completed my graduate collection and school final semester during the pandemic. In the face of insufficient resources and equipment, I simplified the silhouette and production process of the garment. Each look is stitched back and front like paper dolls, and the finishing of serrated edges has also become the brand’s iconic detail.
How do you want to achieve the long-lasting concept for your label?
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. This daily observation also became the label’s main concept.
How do you determine what is durable design?
Classic and Timeless.
What happens to those pieces that didn’t get sold?
Currently the pre-order sale is adopted by the label and reduces the waste of material.
How far do you go in terms of sustainability?
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.
Where could you serve as a role model for others?
Persisting in details and quality.
How can the art industry nowadays can help more creatives?
To provide talented creatives with initial operating funds and brand development consulting.
Can you tell us a little bit about your references for the last collection?
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.
Which was the best-selling garment from your collections?
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 does your label need right now as a fine art brand in order to achieve the next goals?
Establishing brand iconic products, determining target customers and appropriate sales channels.
Which market are you interested in right now for your brand?
Jewelry and fastener.
<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.
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