Xiang grew up in Wenzhou, China in a family of clothing manufacturers. She studied fashion design at the China Academy of Arts before eventually moving to New York to enrol on Parsons’ MFA Fashion Design & Society program, graduating in 2016. Though some of her MFA classmates—Kozaburo Akasaka, Maria Jahnkoy, and Snow Xue Gao—launched their own collections soon after graduating, Xiang didn’t feel ready. Instead, she joined the knitwear team of Calvin Klein 205W39NYC under Raf Simons.
Her two years at Klein were “very intense” but extraordinary, she says, comparing working under Simons to following a map in which his conceptual “clues” guided a complex aesthetic journey. “He finally curates and edits to put everything together and tell the story.” Working on four collections a year at Klein accelerated her design process. “There were dozens of ideas going on at the same time. The amount of imagery you looked at every day was crazy,” she said.