Cheng Cheng celebrates standing out from the crowd and implores individuals to face their demons by becoming highly saturated monsters! The Chinese fashion designer tackles mental health issues with all bells and whistles, her message is clear: stand loud - quite literally so - and proud. In light of her most recent feature as part of our Global Young Talent 2020 in the September issue of Harper’s Bazaar UK, we had the pleasure of speaking to the Kingston School of Art alumna about fashion spreading positivity and much more.
You moved to London to pursue a degree in fashion at the Kingston School of Art, upon graduating in 2019 you launched you eponymous brand, Cheng Cheng, have you always wanted to become a fashion designer?
I’ve always dreamt of becoming a fashion designer and launching my own brand. When I was ten years old, I started watching catwalk shows on TV. Ever since then, I decided to become a fashion designer. Inclusivity is really celebrated in the UK, people don’t exclude me because of my differences, instead, they are praised and I can truly be myself. Cheng Cheng embodies this philosophy, you should dare to be yourself and aim to see the positive in difficult or negative situations. I believe that as a fashion designer I have a responsibility, and that is to spread positivity and happiness with my designs.
"CHENG CHENG embodies this philosophy, you should dare to be yourself and aim to see the positive in difficult or negative situations."
You joined our Graduate Talent Programme, having your collection show both on our website as well as making use of our PR showroom services, how has this experience been for you?
I am very honoured to be part of Fashion Crossover London. Fashion Crossover London is a very good platform, it provides more opportunities to contact magazines, MV shooting, and other media platforms. It has made more people pay attention to my work and laid a good foundation for my brand. I am very grateful to Since Wang and my PR Lupe Baeyens. They are very patient and responsible for me and my label, providing me with a lot of good suggestions, support and help. It is a great experience.
Your collection explores the topic of children’s mental health, how does this topic influence your designs and what lead to you use this topic as inspiration?
My collection is titled BE A MONSTER. When looking into social problems children face, in particular mental health, they often suffer from bullying at school, discrimination, and isolation due to their strange characters, behaviours, and differences, which have an irreversible impact on children's future and mental health. They have to be brave as a monster to show the world that they are different and its the best way to protect themselves.
My good friend had psychological problems during his childhood due to his eccentric personality, which caused him to be excluded. Through this collection, I want to encourage him and many people like him to face up as well as open to their differences, using them as a weapon to be their best and most authentic version of themselves.
For the collection’s embroidery, I adopt the culture of a primitive tribe in Africa and translated these designs into embroidery patterns, creating a unique ‘monster skin’ made of tribe masks and costume. The idea of a monster was repeatedly explored, combined and reorganised of various materials, creating something sparkling and aesthetically pleasing. Using the bells from the tribal exorcism mask, a singing garment was created.
"They have to be brave as a monster to show the world that they are different and its the best way to protect themselves"
With your collection, you champion sustainability, how does this manifest itself through your design process and final garments?
I believe that advocating sustainability is the responsibility of a fashion designer. In the process of making garments, I value small-scale, purely manual production models and opposed to large-scale industrial production. All the embroidery parts of the clothing are made by me purely by hand. This purely manual production mode reduces the carbon emissions and pollution caused by a mechanic process. At the same time, the small-scale production model makes clothing more high-quality and unique, which calls on everyone to buy 'less but better' clothes, thereby reducing people's waste.
What other plans and dreams do you have for yourself and your label?
I founded my own eponymous brand CHENG CHENG in October 2019, and I am planning to prepare the SS2021 series. I will further develop the "singing garments" and continue my signature highly saturated colour palette to create a three-dimensional audio-visual effect. I plan to develop my brand first in Europe and China and gradually go global. I dream that CHENG CHENG can become globally influential. Through my designs, I wish to pass on my understand and attitude towards the world, delivering more happiness, and positive energy!
"I dream that CHENG CHENG can become globally influential."
Discover Cheng Cheng's full collection
Words by Lupe Baeyens