Chunchen Liu: “I feel I can help children in need with my design and skill, not just feel sorry for them”
Earlier this year, Jeans for Genes held a competition with Kingston School of Art to design this year’s limited edition fashion t-shirt. Amongst some fierce competition, Chinese fashion designer Chunchen Liu’s design stood out head and shoulders above the rest. Chunchen is currently completing her Masters in Illustration at Kingston University. The t-shirt takes its inspiration from a pile of jeans, thread and a rivet to form the pattern and twist of a DNA double helix. Chunchen’s design has been modelled by celebrities including: Kimberley Walsh, Rochelle Humes, Peter Andre, Charlotte De Carle and Ashley James. Here Chunchen tells us a bit more about her inspiration behind the design and why she decided to take part in the competition.
What made you choose to study design and illustration?
I have loved drawing since my childhood and I also enjoy the feeling of realising an idea. So I chose to learn design at an undergraduate degree level. At the same time, illustration was always my biggest hobby, I wanted to learn more about it through the MA in illustration at Kingston University.
What was the inspiration behind your design?
My inspiration for the design is the recreation of denim fabric. I wanted to show the relationship between denim and genes in my design to show the purpose behind Jeans for Genes Day. Because I had some experience of denim recreation in my previous study of fashion design, this was the first idea that came to me.
How did you develop the design?
I tested denim washing by myself. My method of washing is similar to what is called a bleach-wash. I added the thick aqua bleach into water and put the denim sample into it. It takes about over three hours, the longer the time the fabric is immersed, the lighter the colour comes out. Because I did not stir the fabric during the bleach process, the colour on one fabric came out very different on different parts due to the folds of fabric. When I cut the fabric into tapes these tapes came out with a gradient effect. With these recreated materials, I came up with four concepts. I finally chose this concept because it is simple and clearly shows the meaning and purpose behind the campaign, and has the strongest visual impact. I think the advantage of my design is the 3D impact of the pattern.
Was this your first piece of clothing design? What did you learn?
It is not my first piece of clothing design because my undergraduate major was fashion design, but this is my first piece of t-shirt design work. From the project, I learned how to make a design to meet the requirements of a client and how to be innovative within a theme that I am not familiar with. I also learned a lot about how illustration applies to other products from the project. Illustrators in fashion need to consider the trend, the silhouette of clothes, the body and the visual impact from a distance.
What are the benefits of winning the competition for you?
What I benefit the most from the experience of winning this competition is that I feel I can help children in need with my design and skill, not just feel pity for them. This experience gave me the motivation to keep people in need in my mind for my future design work.
Who would you most like to see wearing the t-shirt?
Because I am a big fan of Doctor Who, I want to see the first female doctor, Jodie Whittaker wearing the t-shirt. The Doctor helps people through the universe and brings hope to people. I think she is the ideal person to wear the Jeans for Genes Day t-shirt.
Who are your favourite fashion designers?
My favourite fashion designer is Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake. He uses a lot of creative, textile technology in his designs!
How has the competition helped your university course?
This competition gave me a practical chance to learn more about the application of illustration on products. Also, this experience has now motivated me to be more involved in charity work.
What are you plans for the future?
In the future, I want to be a fashion designer and apply the illustration knowledge I have learnt during my Masters.
Do you have a love of denim? How many pairs of jeans do you own?
Yes, I love denim very much. I own 6 pairs of jeans!
Have you inherited anything from your parents?
My parents work in landscape design, so maybe I inherited some designing talent from them.
The Jeans for Genes fashion t-shirt is available to buy for £20 on our website www.jeansforgenes.org/shop