CSM graduate Ding Yun Zhang showed his debut collection at London Fashion Week in February, pulling together his vision of long-lasting functional design with his work at Kanye West’s Yeezy. The Chinese designer’s graduate collection was made up of futuristic outerwear, with oversized puffa jackets and trousers, and hand-painted camouflage prints.
The designer’s manifesto is “a theoretical bond of sustainable ideas about long term comfort, materials, and functionality.” Alongside his dedication to sustainability, Zhang designs clothes that tell stories from underrepresented demographics around the world who face environmental and economic challenges.
The designer is drawn to utility rather than luxury. His graduate collection was inspired by photographer Jackie Nickerson’s portraits capturing workers on corporate plantations in Africa. “It’s important that we don’t forget that style sometimes comes from necessity for a sustainable way of living,” he says. “That is what inspires my desire to design for the future.”
How do you want to influence the future?
Ding Yun Zhang: I want to bring awareness, through my clothes, to the experiences of different demographics and the physical and economic pressures of their environment. I would like to develop my own types of biodegradable nylon and waterproof fabrics and collaborate with other young designers to promote sustainable textile innovation. I also plan to innovate lightweight biodegradable nylons for protection from the elements and functional transportation and to donate to ethnic groups around the world in harsh environmental and economic conditions.
What issues or causes are you passionate about and why?
Ding Yun Zhang: It’s important that we don’t forget that style sometimes comes from the necessity for a sustainable way of living. This inspires my desire to design for the future. I want to express original ideas of function from different ethnic groups and walks of life. I combine these styles with lightweight, protective fabrics to create a vision of comfortable and protective proportions with functional details.
“I want to bring awareness, through my clothes, to the experiences of different demographics and the physical and economic pressures of their environment” – Ding Yun Zhang
What creative or philanthropic project would you work on with a grant from the Dazed 100 Ideas Fund?
Ding Yun Zhang: This grant will help me develop the next stage of my brand, which involves building a team of young designers and students that support my ideas about sustainable materials and long-lasting function. I would work with fabric mills and factories to develop sustainable nylons and protective fabrics. I want to be surrounded by a community of like-minded students and designers to innovate materials and long-lasting fashion products for more sustainable lifestyles.