Last Wednesday, the new graduates of RISD’s Apparel Design program sent their senior thesis collections down the runway at New York Fashion Week at Skylight Clarkson Sq. in Soho. One of these graduates just happens to be the current Marketing Intern here at Shapeways. That would be me! Learn all about how it felt and how I got there (and here!) below.
How did it feel to see your work onstage at Fashion Week, in front of a true NYFW crowd?
For me and my peers, New York Fashion Week was always the goal to work toward. We are among very few fashion schools that showcase undergraduate work during Fashion Week, and RISD is able to do so through Tommy Hilfiger’s sponsorship. The benefits of exposing our work to editors and designers are no doubt enormous, but what was truly special was to see the work we poured our hearts into for the last year presented on such a professional, upscale platform. Intense critiques, meticulous crafting, and numerous all-nighters… The dedication and commitment we put into developing and completing our collections for the last nine months made the garments precious and so personal — they were our babies. To be able to present them in such a setting to friends, family, and industry insiders was the best closure I could ask for.
How did you get to Shapeways?
During my time at RISD, I loved taking interdisciplinary courses (e.g., Robotics Meets Performance), and particularly liked exploring technology’s role in art and design. In my senior year, out of a state of existential disillusionment (partially a result of current events), I turned to writing and realized it was something I loved and wanted to do seriously. I just happened to stumble upon Shapeways at the right time and it turned out to be the happy intersection of my two interests.
What is your collection about?
Sculpting my vision of a gender utopia! To be more specific, I wanted to take the notion of Asian masculinity and its surrounding controversies/stereotypes to subvert the outdated, patriarchal concept of gender binaries. I researched Asian masculinity through history and culture in both East Asia and the West to combine it with my personal experience and visually manifest it into a collection.
How do you use technology in your designs?
I use technology to create graphic elements that would be impossible or too expensive with traditional garment-making techniques. With 3D printing, I was able to easily procure a 3D text pendant that would have been extremely difficult to create by hand in any material, and would be very expensive to get manufactured any other way.
Aside from using 3D printing, I also took advantage of other digital manufacturing techniques. I manipulated fabrics by laser cutting them to either achieve different levels of transparency or to cut out intricate patterns. Using the right synthetic fabric blends, the laser cutter is able to seal the edges and keep the fabric from fraying. To achieve the level of detail and intricacy by hand that the laser cutter easily cuts away would take days, not to mention that you would have to somehow figure out a way to finish the edges that wouldn’t interfere with the graphic. I had to take advantage of the laser cutter and used a super grungy font with a ton of little cutouts.
How did you make the necklace?
For the 3D print, I used the Creator App “3D Word Flip” and printed it in polished pink SLS nylon. I sourced the chain and bag handles from Joyce Trimming on W. 38th Street, and used French clip earring parts to connect the 3D print with the other materials.
Why is text a big part of your collection?
Language is one of the foundations of constructs in our minds. By reusing phrases like “Oh Boy!” and “Boy is one letter away from body” over and over again, the gendered definition of boy is stripped and it is rendered just a word without all the societal baggage.
Click here to view the rest of the designs from the show, including the collections of the other 11 designers chosen to participate.
If you’re currently a student, make sure to visit our Education page so you can take advantage of our 15% Student Discount. If you’re using 3D printing and are devoted to exploring its possibilities, be sure to apply for our $1000 Education Grants. Our next deadline is October 31.