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With a clear obsession with textures and materials, London-based designer Minki Cheng has continuously delivered collections that explore, reinvent and reinterpret existing fabrics with unexpected results. Take for example his graduate collection, for which he wrapped the wearer in boldy-coloured plastic fur, preparing him for a potential apocalyptic scenario. Or his new collection for A/W 2014, for which Cheng created a series of black and white garments that albeit bearing seemingly uncomplicated silhouettes, are strikingly rich in texture.

Captured by this multi-sensorial experience that demands as much from our eyes as from our hands, we sat down with Cheng to find out more about the person behind the garments, his continuous tactile and visual exploration and his latest collection.

I’m going to star with the obvious: tell me a bit about yourself...

I’m originally from Hong Kong. I graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2012 and then I started my own label last year, in 2013. So now I’m up to my new collection.

How did you know you wanted to pursue fashion?

I’ve always been interested in crafty things. I didn’t know I wanted to do fashion probably until the end of high school. I guess when you’re young you just love it but then it evolves into something really important to you. What fashion means to me now is completely different from what it was when I was younger. Now I love fashion because to me it represents civilisation, it defines modern humanity.

Why womenswear?

I guess it’s about the way I think and it being a bit decorative. Maybe that’s why it is more appealing to womenswear. But I think I could probably translate that into menswear as well.

Why did you decide to start your own brand almost straight after graduation?

I think you learn while you are doing things and... Actually, I did want to do the MA but when they asked whether we wanted to do it I just felt that I wasn’t ready and I wanted to do it at my best condition. Now, when I look back, I think I just thought too much…I think it would have been a good opportunity to learn but I don’t think you can look back. I am happy with what I am doing.

How are things going? What sort of difficulties have you encountered so far?

There are a lot of difficulties, but I guess they are the difficulties that most young designers would have.

Your graduate collection was quite excessive in many ways, while the subsequent collections are all more pared down... This last one is even quite minimal in certain ways. Why that shift?

To be honest I did not aim to do something minimal and I don’t even want to say it’s minimal... My graduate collection was about surviving the doomsday, and my research was all about mixing technology and sportswear with how animals protect themselves in nature - a lot of the colours came from colour protection and animals that have a lot of colours. It’s really about the research that I’m doing. I guess every collection is different. Maybe [for A/W 2014] I wanted to do something more calm and comfortable to look at, but I'd rather think it’s done and go in another direction.

What was the inspiration for A/W 2014?

It was about fidgeting as a biological need. Also, a pleasure - you are able to fidget when you want to. If a person sees a garment she wants to be wearing so she can fidget on it all the time, that will be the most satisfying garment ever. And if I could build a relationship between a material and the person, than I would say that’s a successful collection.

You’ve always explored different materials. Like in your graduate collection, in which you had this plastic fur...

I guess I really like to reinterpret things in an unexpected way. At the same time, inspiration comes from everyday objects which are very simple. But by reinterpreting them in a new way they become interesting. I find everyday objects easier as a medium to build a relationship with the audience. Yeah, I think material is very important in what I do.

What materials did you use in this collection? 

It’s a combination of wool and silicone.

How did you create this unusual blend?

We had to place the fabric onto the liquid [silicone] so that when it dries everything is already in the silicone - we’re not sticking it or sewing it after. It takes time to dry but the process is only about pouring the liquid and controlling the shape and the thickness... I think it’s quite successful in terms of how we manage to merge the fabric with the silicone.

Talking about the future... Do you know where you would like the brand to be five years from now?

I think we can never plan. I just hope I can reach a bigger audience and let them understand the meaning behind what I’m doing. That would be really great.

And where can we find your collection right now?

Keep in touch and you will be happy to see it on a rail soon!


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