Dazed Digital

Shanghai / 中文

Zhang Da

February 3, 2012

Fashion design with a philosophical approach

  • Text by Karchun Leung

Zhang Da is a fashion designer who started his own atelier in Shanghai 2005. He is also designing the collection for SHang Xia. His work has been exhibited in the Netherlands, Japan, France and in the "China Design Now" exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in 2008. We spoke to the philospher Zhang Da about his fashion theory and the cultural situations in China.

Satellite Voices: How did you come to fashion design?
Zhang Da: I was a teacher before, trying to do the thing I believed in, but there are not many opportunities at school. A friend forwarded my CV to the Yifei Fashion Company. I used this chance to move to Shanghai and work as a designer.

Satellite Voices: What do you think about fashion design right now?
Zhang Da: I don’t see a big difference between fashion design and product design. In fashion, the product is something you can wear. When fashion design meets the basic needs of function, its all about creating an illusion. 

Satellite Voices: I remember you have a circle cutting design piece, do you think you prefer conceptual design more than practical design?
Zhang Da: I like them both. I am doing very basic and minimal products as well as very experimental designs. Actually I don't think they work against each other. Both of them need to co-exist, then we can have a better understanding on fashion.

Satellite Voices: What do you think about the terms "Made in China" or "Created in China"?
Zhang Da: "Made in China" is not something we need to be ashamed of. We should pay attention to the quality of the end product. It is a question of great stuff produced by experienced craftsmen or something cheap and undesirable. We shouldn't be ashamed on relying on manufacturing, but we do should start to focus more on creation. This is not really happening right now.

Satellite Voices: What kind of difficulties are bothering you most on your creation?
Zhang Da: There is lots of trouble involved. Fashion is not just talking about ideas, you need to create the real product. And also fulfilling your standards, no matter if theoretically or aesthetically. This is the most difficult part.

Satellite Voices: What do you think is the understanding of fashion for the Chinese majority? What are they looking for?
Zhang Da: If we are really talking about most of the Chinese, a lot of them just fulfill their basic needs on living, fashion is too far away from them. But if we focus on cities like Beijing or Shanghai: Some of the Chinese they would think fashion is an understanding of Western lifestyle. In terms of the knowledge about trends and their salaries, fashion can be an index of their social status. Also fashion can be a prove of their mental youthfulness and willing on trying new things.

Satellite Voices: You seem not very into fashion right now, what is fashion means to you now?
Zhang Da: That's true, I am not so into the idea of fashion right now. Fashion for me is more like a medium to try out different things. I am interrested to cross and mix design, art and sociology.

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