Fashion Institute of Technology graduate Bingjin Zhu empowering namesake label ‘BING’ has been featured in the December issue of Harper’s Bazaar UK and we had the pleasure of speaking with her. BING is inspired by, works with, designs for and donates to LADIES. Looking back at her own life’s story, the soft yet powerful collection works as an homage to Bingjin’s own mother. Her delicately draped pieces double-up as a catalyst for self-care and inspired the wearing to take a step back, relax and take it easy in these tumultuous times.
1. What is the first step when designing and getting inspired for a new collection or garment?
Before setting my mind on the general direction of the collection, I wanted to think of what side of me and what story I wanted to communicating with my collection. BING is designed for a specific group of people, I call them LADIES. Not necessarily from a gender perspective, I believe they are the kind of people who believe in soft power. My job is to let them know they are special, I met so many ladies in my life, they are vulnerable but powerful, they work hard, believe in themselves, and are very calm. I want to portrait and dress up this kind of people. Part of the brand’s profits sees a donation to WomanKind, an organisation for empowering women, a charity that the brand is passionate to be associated with to show her respect to her muses, customers, and her creative team.
"My job is to let them know they are special, I met so many ladies in my life, they are vulnerable but powerful, they work hard, believe in themselves, and are very calm."
2. How important was adding heritage and where you came from in the inspiration for this collection?
To me, my collection is who I am, and who I am comes from my heritage, namely my parents, my hometown, my people. My mother, a typical Chinese lady, dedicated herself to her family and her husband’s career. In my memory, mother would always smile and calm me down whenever she’s upset or impatient. But behind the softness there has always been power - mother was the one who held the whole family together, through ups and downs. When creating this collection, I was honouring a soft, yet powerful lady, her power of softness.
3. What sets your collection apart is the use of unique colouring schemes and sculpting of fabrics, could you share your design process with us?
I grew up surrounded by sculptures in my family home, courtesy of my wood-sculptor father. These intricate figurines have had an enormous influence on my fashion aesthetic. I was interested in the idea of interaction and interchangeability between 2D and 3D formats. As a fashion designer, I see my designs in the format of 3D sculpture, as wearing of the 2D clothing pieces serves as the most natural 2D-to-3D transformation process. Similarly, my mother inspires my collection through her calming and soft mannerisms, reflected in my selection of fabrics and textures. In order to emphasise this idea, I used 8 large pieces of horsehair canvas to set the foundation of structure, then I layered on with draping on model’s body. I chose jersey as my fabrics, as the softness of jersey could handle heavy duty horsehair canvas, demonstrating the power of jersey, the power of softness.
"As a fashion designer, I see my designs in the format of 3D sculpture, as wearing of the 2D clothing pieces serves as the most natural 2D-to-3D transformation process."
4. You describe yourself as a storyteller, how is it reflected in your work?
Personally, I love stories. Growing up I remember falling asleep while listening during bedtime stories, in a same effort I hope I can bring the spirit of calmness to the world. As of now, the world is at crisis, people are scared, anxious, and vulnerable. I think it is really important for us to go back to the exercise of learning how to be calm and believe in ourselves, no matter what kind of jobs we are doing, which positions we are. As a brand, BING celebrates the power of softness, the power of calmness, and we hope our belief and the stories of our inspiration can make people feel better. When it comes to storytelling, I want to tell the stories featuring the “ladies”, who overcame adversity, broke through barriers, and changed the world with their soft power and power of calmness.
5. How will you take your findings from this collection to influence your future garments?
BING does not have to appeal to the mass audience, as long as it is loyal to its niche of clientele. In the meantime, I want to keep optimising my process of production and operating behind BING — for it to become more accessible and friendly to our ‘ladies’, who deserve a lot of credit for what they are doing.
"BING does not have to appeal to the mass audience, as long as it is loyal to its niche of clientele. In the meantime, I want to keep optimising my process of production and operating behind BING — for it to become more accessible and friendly to our ‘ladies’, who deserve a lot of credit for what they are doing."
Discover Bingjin Zhu's full collection
Words by Lupe Baeyens