Katie Jiang

February 25, 2020

Katie Jiang is a young designer based out of Brooklyn, New York. She was born in Hunan China, but then moved to Boston when she was adopted. She started her journey in art through painting and mixed media, but soon discovered fashion design to be the best medium during high school. She uses her work as a way for her to shape and explore her identity. In her designs she likes to pull from memories, places, and emotions around her. She wants her concepts to be intimate to the designer, but easily relatable. With a strong interest in movement and small details, she makes ready to wear and slightly more experimental garments. She hopes to continue with more experimental shapes, colors, and textures in both ready to wear and more out of the ordinary styles of clothing.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.

I am 22 and currently a designer for creative purposes mostly. I don’t have a “brand” yet but I am a fashion designer who creates ready-to-wear mixed with a bit of “less wearable” aspects. I work on my own designs at home in my room/studio, as well as a small project with fellow designer Shea Stiebler. We graduated from Pratt University together.

Your work in a sense is autobiographical. Can you tell us more about this?

My own work (not collaborative work) is usually centered around my own experiences or feelings. I had a lot of work in school that was centered around identity and my family. I am adopted from China into a white Jewish family, and that was really confusing for me and took a long time for me to accept and enjoy the mix that I am. I was never really white and never really Asian, so I felt like I just had no solid sense of community. And now that I’m older and have learned to love it, I want to learn more and channeled a lot of it into my work. But even when I choose a concept that is really personal, I hope there are ways that people can find a line of relation to their own lives and feelings.

What is influencing your work right now? 

Right now, my friend Shea and I are working on a capsule collection of 5-6 outfits based around the way we, and many others, feel during the year after graduation. We are centering around the feeling of being too free while in contrast having the really strong constraints school has left with us of thinking we should be better and doing more than what we are doing now. School builds us up to think we will do great things and pushes us hard to achieve goals. But that’s just the thing. That’s in school. Once you’re out, you can do anything on any timeline you want. And self motivation to create is one of the hardest feats no matter how passionate you are about creation. So we are focusing on that main topic. Anticipate it! 

Who are some of your favorite artists? 

I won’t say who my favorite artists are because we all know the big designers, the painters, and seemingly obscure ones that actually everyone knows. Why talk about people we all know. Some of my favorite artists are actually my friends. They work so hard and truly inspire me to continue working and do better. June Woo is one of my best friends and she is a queen of textile and colors in her designs, and Ry Arne is a construction and shape master. Their designs always have interesting ways of being present on the body and they too work a lot in concepts based around their roots and identity. But I guess in general most of my favorite artists are all people who work in color, movement, and texture. Because for the first few years of designing I really thought I was that “all black and metal accessories” girl. But now, color and touch appeal draws me in the most both inspirationally and visually. 

If you hadn’t become a designer what do you think you’d be doing? 

I really don’t know what I would do other than this. But I enjoyed being a casting directors assistant during fashion week a lot. The energy and hectic lists was kind of a rush. I like to think I thrive off of chaos. I am also curious about culinary school. But I don’t know. 

What are you listening to right now?

I have different music for different situations. I tend to listen to a few albums at a time rather than playlists. I will really listen to anything though. I like music from modern classical, to rock, to K-pop. Consistently though, I have a playlist for the gym called “running sucks”. Some artists on the playlist are Britney Spears, Black Pink, Princess Nokia, and Death Grips. And another playlist my roommate Morgan and I made called “Bitch bitch bitch” is all music about strong women and making money. I feel like you could guess what the playlist is made up of. I am never the first one to volunteer to play music over the speaker. 

Describe your current studio or workspace.

Right now I work out of my room/living room. It is organized chaos. I clean my room before I start working to have as much room as possible. And in ten minutes it has exploded with fabric, paper, and like four pairs of scissors. My housemates are the best and don’t mind if I leave something out briefly and allow me to keep a whole rack of clothes I made in the living room. 

Tell us about your documentation process. 

It is a lot of writing, cutting and pasting photos of drapes I made mixed with drawings, and also folders saved on my phone. I wouldn’t say I’m the most aesthetic documenter, or organized, but it works.

What is the significance of shape and line in your work? 

It is everything. I like to work in the round. I like my work to have a different view from front and back. Or side to side. I don’t like flat or super symmetrical garments. I am really into lopsided or deconstructed looking shapes.

What materials do you use?

I try to use natural materials because it is better for the earth. Or repurpose fabric if I can. Especially of late. Except, I will say if there is a fabric that is synthetic that is super unique it is hard for me to say no. I’d say my favorites are made up of: gauze-like/open weave fabric, cotton shirting, and waxed silk.