Technology is very prominent in your design process, how does that play into the final outcome of a garment and how has technology helped you develop your skills as a designer?
The core of my design process largely involves 3D printing, CAD, and CGI. This allows me to calculate the exact amount of materials I need to create an item, so there is absolutely zero waste. Through CGI, I can also create designs with no carbon footprint. I photograph my products and they end up looking exactly like my CGI renders, so I don’t even need to make a sample or toile. Buyers are also open to buying garments this way once you’ve built a trusting relationship with them. This method is revolutionary in terms of sustainable fashion production and business systems. The combination of modern technology with traditional craft is what makes a GRACE LING product.
“The toiles from my collection were made from picking up scraps on the studio floor by others. The shapes of the scraps were so odd and irregular, that it actually allowed me to sculpt unconventional silhouettes on the mannequin.” – Grace Ling
You mention sustainability a lot when discussing your work, as an emerging designer why is it so important to be conscious when producing garments? What sacrifices or modifications have you had to make for your brand to enable this?
I don’t think it is possible for anyone who wants to be part of the fashion industry right now to not at least try to be sustainable. Even if that’s not the main focus of your work, sustainable practices can still be implemented into the process. Surprisingly, my attempts at sustainability have only given me back more, and I don’t see it as a sacrifice. For example, technology has allowed me to create unique forms and extreme precision in ways I’ve never imagined. The toiles from my collection were also made from picking up scraps on the studio floor by others. The shapes of the scraps were so odd and irregular, that it actually allowed me to sculpt unconventional silhouettes on the mannequin.
Coming from a fine art and performance background what effect has that had on your work and identity as a designer? how do you see your work fitting into the industry?
I am very grateful to have come from a fine art background, this has informed and fuelled my passion to create multidisciplinary Fashion. It empowers me to create a brand that’s an ongoing dialogue between art, fashion, and collaboration. In many ways, the role of a fashion designer is quite similar to that of an artist. Fashion is literally a projection of culture and upheavals. So, I’m not concerned about fitting into the industry. Fashion is about telling people what they want, not necessarily giving people what they think they want. There are also many pleasant surprises that come from not worrying about fitting in. I think as long as one is authentic, one will fit in.
“I think it’s important for designers to figure and work some things out on their own before expanding and putting their brand in someone else’s hands and hoping it will sell.” Grace Ling
You’ve recently launched your own E-commerce platform, why was it important to have an independent way of selling your work as opposed to selling through a boutique or larger brand?
I think that selling through a boutique or a larger brand is great, but it’s not necessarily the most important first step. As with many business relationships, I believe both the designer and the boutique have a mutually beneficial agreement. But if you’re able to start off with direct-to-customer sales, you have an advantage when it comes to taking on an investment or wholesaling in the future. You would also have more to offer a boutique rather than them helping you out. I think it’s important for designers to figure and work some things out on their own before expanding and putting their brand in someone else’s hands and hoping it will sell.
What are your plans for the future? What’s next?
I’m thinking about expanding into some new and exciting online retail spaces soon! I am also looking forward to more collaborations, it will be a surprise!