Monthly Archives: March 2013

THE BEST DESIGN JOB YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF

In the Spring 2013 issue of Hue, textile designers and developers at four companies talked about their process. A fifth, Yuko Yamaguchi, Illustration ’10, at Tom Cody Design, didn’t fit in the issue. But Hue thinks her job, and her work, is seriously awesome.

A design by Yuko Yamaguchi that combines floral patterns with a leopard print. Originally the design was much flatter; Cody suggested adding brushstrokes for texture.

The Garment District-based company designs patterns and embroidery—about 200 a week—and sells them to fashion designers high and low. Those clients might use the pattern for one garment or an entire collection. Most similar companies are based in Europe; Tom Cody Design is one of the few American companies in the business.

Cody, who started his company after taking a Textile Design course with Professor Lee Stewart at FIT, employs three FIT-trained illustrators and designers on his team and would look favorably upon applicants from FIT’s Illustration or Textile/Surface Design majors (hint, hint).

A design by Yamaguchi inspired by winter foliage.

Using a computer and tablet pen, Yamaguchi creates two to three patterns per day. Those that Cody and assistant art director Yat Yee Tam approve are printed onto mock garments and shown to clients. The job, though demanding, is a satisfying creative outlet for her.

Yamaguchi finds inspiration from runways and street fashion and just about everywhere else. “I think fashion is related to the economy, politics, art, music, literature, news, psychology, technology, and architecture,” she says.

The catch? She can’t get credit for her designs when they hit the runway. Once a design is sold, it’s treated as the buyer’s intellectual property. It’s sort of like having an affair with a celebrity: You get all the fun but none of the status.

“It’s kind of hard,” she admits, “but the good thing is, you’re not bored. When Yat and Tom accept one of my ideas, it’s so exciting. Where I was working before, I’d suggest an idea and they’d deny, deny, deny.”

An abstract painterly design by Yamaguchi. Fewer colors makes the design more appealing to cost-conscious fashion companies.

TAIWANESE DESIGNER REDEFINES “OUTDOOR FASHIONS”

Hue is crushing on Sophie Hong. The Taiwanese designer, who got her start in the ’70s, creates wearable clothing out of silk dyed using a traditional Chinese technique.

Her unique and beloved silk garments are represented in the Musée Galleria de la Mode et du Costume, a museum of fashion history in Paris.

Her clothes aren’t just meant for runways, so she decided to hold a fashion show outside Cafe Le Nemours in Place Colette in Paris, near her eponymous boutique.

Sophie Hong’s outdoor fashion show. Photo by Liam Cheng.

The show could have been mistaken for a bunch of well-dressed coffee drinkers and umbrella carriers wearing matching chunky clogs, except they were far more orderly than  your average size-zero Parisians. And… it wasn’t raining.

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Hue isn’t the only one who likes Ms. Hong. Last year, she received the National Order of Merit from the French government for her fashion design and her French bookstore in Taipei, Le Pigeonnier (The Dovecote). The shop was founded by her late partner, Francoise Zylberberg.

Sophie Hong at her fashion show in Paris last September. Photo by Lucien Lung.

And the icing on the cake? She spent a month at FIT in 1992 on a scholarship. She says the culture she absorbed while here enhanced her vision. Consider Hue flattered.

Sophie’s portrait by Jacques Camille Picoux.

FORGET THE FOURTH DIMENSION. THE THIRD ONE IS STILL PRETTY COOL

Visitors to Shoe Obsession at The Museum at FIT might have noticed some mind-blowing biomorphic shoes that seemed to be made of bone. Like this “Biomimicry” shoe by Marieka Ratsma.

This shoe is dope.
Photograph by Thomas van Schaik

It was made with a 3D printer by Shapeways, a leading company in the business. 3D printing is the next big thing, according to Duann Scott, “designer evangelist” for Shapeways. Scott spoke at FIT to a packed audience on February 26 as part of the Love Your Library series.

He proposed that 3D printing will be an important manufacturing method of the future, because infinite complexity and customization don’t cost extra, there are no start-up costs, and the process results in very little waste.

Scott said that one company, with a 6-by-6-meter printing capacity, is making modular homes.

To create an object, just upload a design, choose a material (options include steel, silver, ceramic, and various plastics), and the item will be shipped in two to three weeks.

Hue doesn’t understand the technical process; it has something to do with layers and maybe lasers.

At posting time, this shoe was still undergoing testing for durability and comfort, but soon, it will be for sale in Shapeways’ marketplace. The marketplace also offers lots of jewelry, figurines, and toys, such as an insanely large $1,600 Rubik’s Cube.

The best news of all? FIT now has a 3D printer and may open it up for student use in the fall.

With all this 3D furor, Hue hopes people still appreciate 2D things; for example, magazines and magazine blogs.

Joshua Harker sold this skull on Kickstarter for $50 each. He made more than $77,000. Photography by Alessandro Casagli.

PLORY DAYS ARE HERE TO STAY

Some people use their January break for a Caribbean cruise. Others catch up on sleep. Not Vincent Quan, associate professor of Fashion Merchandising Management. He researched the malls of Shanghai, surreptitiously photographing storefronts and interrogating sales clerks.

Hue bets he’s lots of fun to travel with.

China sells the same luxury brands as the U.S.—Coach, Louis Vuitton, and gobs of Gucci—but many of the mass-market brands are different. Yet some of the stores he saw look awfully familiar…

These people don’t look Chinese…

The popular brand “E-Land.” Hue wonders what the E stands for… certainly not “End.”

Hue’s favorite is Plory, a horribly misconceived portmanteau. Sounds like a pesky little bird.

Nothing says America like “Plory.”

Quan discovered that many of these stores are Korean brands trying to gain market share by leveraging existing “American” looks. All the major Korean conglomerates—Samsung, LG, and Hyundai, for example—have fashion divisions.

In addition to Uggs, Quan found Iggs, Jumbo-Ugg, and Uggworld. Because there just aren’t enough Ugg-like boots in this world.

“Mom! I’m the only girl at school without a pair of Jumbouggs! Do you WANT me to be unpopular?”

This unabashed celebration of mistranslation reminds Hue of a popular toy made in China.

Benign Girl, the most inoffensive doll of our time.

After all that shopping, Quan went home empty-handed. Because China’s retail model includes a string of taxes and middlemen, one could get PTSD from the sticker shock. A pair of Allen Edmonds shoes cost $800. A Brooks Brothers dress shirt cost almost $300.

“You’d get a much better value in New York City,” he admits.

64 COLLEGES AND FIT AIN’T ONE

Hip-hop artists will have to add another topic to their traditional repertoire of money, women, and violence: Higher ed.

That’s right, B. Martin, winner of HOT 97’s Who’s Next competition, has released a surprisingly danceable “SUNY Anthem,” an homage to his alma mater, SUNY Albany (where he earned a 4.0, mind you), and the 63 other colleges in the system. And Hue cannot stop singing it.

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Martin has certainly read up on the message points. For example,

My momma is proud that I could hold it down / And picked a school that wouldn’t ruin her bank account.

And:

The student association / Repping the population / Of students on the campus / Making sure they got a say in / Everything from groups and shows and who they sponsor / So let ’em know you want me at your next concert.

Note the subtle self-promotion at the end there. We’re on to you, B.

Um, why aren’t the cheerleaders trying harder to reach him? There isn’t a barricade or security guards, ladies.

Bummer that FIT wasn’t mentioned even once! You’d think he might have slipped in a nod to possibly the most prominent fashion-industry school on earth. He’s got scenes of cheerleaders trying to tickle him, kids measuring the circumference of a tree, and a runner nearly collapsing after a poorly attended race, but not a dress form in sight.

“After careful analysis, I have concluded that this is a tree.”

He managed to rhyme “New Paltz” with “sixty-four” and “Cortland” with “walk in,” but he couldn’t slip in FIT? FYI, it rhymes with “dream,” “team,” “free,” and “oh, gee.”

This runner looks tired.

Mr. Martin, might we recommend an additional stanza, just for fairness?

Lest I forget ’bout my kickin’ homies down at FIT / Where design and business students study 46 majors, not to mention PE / Led by Dr. Brown, the school has great renown / And I contracted one grad to make a wedding gown.

Otherwise, bravo.