There are economic, ethical, cultural, and design issues around mass production, particularly mass produced fashion.
Aside from its social issues, fashion that is mass produced can be very expected, uninspiring, conforming, and blasé, you get the picture, and tends to be of lower-quality.
Do we ever think of the actual makers of these mass produced goods and what they experience of this mundane process? As a Chinese designer, Tíngyuè Jǐang wanted to uncover the reality of this system. What he found inspired him and he titled his collection – People Who Wearing Time.
“Workers keep sewing for years; thousands of simple stitch was involved in worker’s time, effort and even their happiness and sadness. I wanted to compress ten years of sewing work into my textile.”
Tíngyuè Jǐang, an MFA graduate in Fashion Design and Society from Parsons School of Design, New York City, uses the globally charged topic of social and ethical issues surrounding mass produced garments from the eyes of the Chinese worker. This cultural reference hits close to home, literally. As a Hangzhou, Chinese native, he saw the factory growth in his community. Jǐang says, “Today, there are so many fabric and garment factories in this area that started from 1990’s. This collection, People Who Wearing Time, was inspired by my background about the Chinese manufacturing system.”
Jǐang’s collection is more about the value of time, from the workers, that goes in each garment. “Sewers only do sewing, cutters only do cutting”, he says, time after time, year after year. This repetitive process results in imperfection which Jǐang says “is what our real life is about”. As he did his research with these workers, he realized the mundane, sad, and tireless work involved. He points out that the speed of which they are required to work, creates mistakes, bad stitching, which they cannot correct since the process is so mechanical.
His designs manifest those imperfections of cutting and sewing mistakes, bad stitches in both his construction and textile. Jǐang uses his technique of shape and textile manipulation to reshape the silhouette. He finds beauty in the imperfections. He states that real life is impure; this kind of impurity is inspired by the worker’s experience. His use of color reflects the manufacturing experience. Grey represents worker’s sadness, “awful factory” and working conditions and the bright colors represent the “lovely products”.
Jǐang’s pattern development and cutting process are to show the shape of the body as incomplete. He deconstructs the basic block dress to get that look. He completes the look [a stocking sock accessory] with an image of the cutting and sewing floor after the work is done for the day with threads and dust attached on worker’s legs and shoes.
Congratulations Tíngyuè Jǐang! Stay true to your vision of creating art with your textile and shape techniques. I wish you continued success.
Tíngyuè Jǐang’s work was exhibited – Blurred Boundaries: Fashion as an Art; 2018, GraySpace Gallery, Santa Barbara, California.
For more information, click Tíngyuè Jǐang
photo credit: Nima Chaichi