Old ways with a forward approach – In today’s overcrowded fashion industry, for brands to really stand out it takes a defined concept and appeal to which people can relate to, whether it be an aesthetic, brand ethos or novelty. For some the concept of artisan fashion could sound like a trade from past centuries, before sewing machines existed, or a methodology exclusive to couture brands, especially considering current times; however some designers are back to slow craftsmanship turning the old into new at the service of ready to wear, as an alternative to mass production and its impact on the environment, – one such designer working on this cause is Jude Ng.
Forget about that retro vision of the future some films from the 60’s would propose, – forward fashion has proven to be more about ethics and sustainability rather than metallic space garments. At a glimpse, the ambiguous silhouettes, the palette of raws, neutrals, and colds present in Jude’s designs resemble an aesthetic worthy of futuristic films such as Matrix or Star Wars ( in a more wearable context); but looking at them closely it is hard not to feel seduced by it’s timeless, genderless and detached from convention signature – one can’t really tell which decade these designs belong to, but they sure reflect a perennial esprit.
Without further introduction, let’s read from the Melbourne based designer who kindly shared a few words about his work, and fashion view with it’s brand Jude, which I’m thrilled to share with you in this brief interview….
Melbourne based designer Jude Ng
Tell us a bit about your first encounter with fashion, when and why you decided to become a fashion designer?
I have always been interested in fashion from a young age, but had always looked at it through the viewpoint of art. A lot of influence came through my parents – my dad was an antiques and art dealer, and my mother was a fashion fanatic who loved designer clothes. I think all of this played a big part in inspiring my creativity. I was always sketching, painting, and creating from an early age. My dream was always to be an artist. After studying fine arts formally, I decided that fashion was the natural route for me, as I wanted my work to reach a wider audience and I believed fashion would be the perfect medium.
So, you are a natural and a product of your environment, but where did you study/train?
I studied fine arts at VCA with a major in painting. After which I completed a fashion diploma at RMIT – I really just wanted to learn the practical skills which would help me to work in the industry and eventually realise my dream of creating my own label.
What are you most passionate about regarding your work and why?
Definitely the product, as I believe that without a quality product, no amount of hype would make the label successful. We focus a lot of our attention on the cut, craftsmanship and the quality of the materials used to create our work, striving to make each piece a style statement which does not date, and has longevity and versatility in our customer’s wardrobe.
Your designs have a modern and edgy feel, but also a timeless character – How did you develop your unique aesthetic and how would you describe your designs?
Thank you! I am very much inspired by the idea of creating sculpture on the body – playing with asymmetry and interesting design lines to flatter the figure. Playing with contrasts and combining unlikely shapes and fabrics also brings balance and uniqueness to our work. I love taking classic pieces which people wear and subverting them – be it in the cut, detailing or fabric used, to make them feel fresh and new again. The idea of layering , and creating versatile layers which can be thrown on with ease also appeals to me, very much inspired by Melbourne’s weather and the idea of a wardrobe suited to an artisanal urban lifestyle. I would describe our work as contemporary, edgy, yet soulful, wearable and timeless. We create our pieces with the free spirited individual in mind, who is not afraid to develop their own sense of style away from passing trends.
When starting a new collection, where do you begin?
I begin with sketching out ideas of garments, thinking of how they will sit together with each other and work with pieces already in our range, so it forms more of a continuation and tells an ongoing story of our evolution as a label. My sketch book if filled with messy drawings and ideas, which eventually evolve into a full collection! From sketching, first patterns are made, followed by first samples and eventually final samples – all of which are done in house in our artisanal studio, by me and my team.
Your designs are produced in limited and special editions, while supporting local makers, what drives this work ethic, and what’s the most challenging element about it?
We very much believe in bringing clothing production back on shore, and trying our best in our own small way to revive the local garment industry. We believe it is so important that our work is made locally and ethically, so as not to contribute to the fast fashion industry, and to keep local skills and crafts alive. The art of tailoring and making clothes is definitely dying, with everything being churned out in cookie cutter fashion these days. One of the challenges is working within a dying industry and being flexible and thinking outside of the box with the situation we are in – good makers are definitely hard to come by these days, so when you find a good one it almost becomes a lifelong marriage!
We are experiencing the era of over exposure in social media, which undoubtedly has influenced the fashion industry – in your opinion, what are the positive and negative sides of this phenomenon?
The positives for me as a label is being able to expose our work to a large global audience, which I think is very exciting. The world has definitely become a smaller place with the power of social media. The negative I believe is that with the amount of material people see on a daily basis through social media, they become desensitised and sometimes forget to relate back with real life experiences.
Fashion is all about inspiration, which designers have influenced you?
I have always been a huge fan of Jean Paul Gaultier, and I am fascinated by his inventive ideas and unique viewpoint on fashion and how his style has evolved over decades. I am also greatly inspired by Vivienne Westwood, I love the DIY deconstructed punk element in her clothes and how she puts suck unlikely things together with ease. I also respect her very much for her activism and environmental work and honest viewpoint about the fashion industry. I am a big believer in her motto – Buy less and choose well.
What plans do you have in mind for your brand in the upcoming years, what can your fans expect?
I would love to grow the brand nationally as well as internationally, while still remaining true to our niche, artisanal and Melbourne made ethos. I would also like to open a second store nationally to showcase our work.
Last but not least, – your definition of style
Your style should show who you are – dare to be different, individual and always true to yourself.
Thanks for your visit!