A finalist in this year’s prestigious H&M Design Award, China-born fashion designer Jia Hua just finished her MFA at Parsons New York in 2013, where she made an impression with her graduate show. Her design aesthetic always shows a playful mind with interwoven ideas inspired by art and traditional handicrafts. Nominated as one of eight finalists along with the likes of fellow Chinese designer Xiao Li, Hua presented a collection featuring athletic fabric and tailored craftsmanship.
In addition to being a devoted fashion designer, Hua is chief editor of Wulun, an online cultural community that provides a platform for young designers and artists to express their opinions. In the interview below, Hua discusses her understanding of her own identity as a Chinese fashion designer as well as her observation of the industry in China and New York.
How did you start thinking about a career in fashion design?
I felt for it and just went for it.
Can you tell us the unique features of your design? Do you think it is important for a designer to feature certain elements consistently in each collection?
[I am], and also HUAJIASTUDIO is trying to discover the possibility of color, materials, and [the] comfort-dressing experience. I think elements [are] not necessary, but there will be some aesthetics or [an] aura that always continues.
What made you come to New York and why would you want to stay?
I found the MFA program at Parsons interesting and decided to come to study. Now I love this city even more after staying almost three years here. New York has such a young and fun energy that keeps me alive.
What was it like to be nominated for this year’s H&M Design Award?
It is a big compromise and also a great experience. It gives me chances to meet with other talents and so many lovely people that [are] involved in it.
What is the main concept behind Wulun, and what is your perception of the relationship between art and fashion?
Wulun is and art and design platform and also an art community that [is] trying to bring all the young talented artists and designers together. I don’t really care [about] their relationships or definition. In the end, it is all about creativity and beauty.
Art is a major inspiration for your design. How have you made that inspiration concrete when making the clothes?
I spent lots of time experimenting with materials, shapes, and techniques to make an idea come true, until it looks good on the body.
What is your plan for the next step in your career as a designer?
I have founded HUAJIASTUDIO in New York this year. I want it to be more than a fashion brand. I would like to cooperate with artists, musicians, and people from different fields to explore more possibilities.
How do you perceive your identity as a Chinese fashion designer? Does your cultural identity influence your way of thinking or your career path?
I am happy to have [a] Chinese cultural background and it definitely has influenced me in many aspects, from aesthetics to the way of building up my own business, since China has abundant manufacturing resources and also a massive market. It is about how to assemble global resources. Being Chinese allows me to approach those resources in my own country more easily.
What is the contemporary fashion scene like in China? What would be the meaning of emerging local fashion designers like you to the Chinese fashion industry?
It has become more active in the recent decade. Now, there are many young contemporary fashion brands rising in China. I think it definitely brings some positive influences to the industry, for example, it helps the industry and also consumers become more aware the power of creativity and the beauty in it. I think it will also in the future help update the fashion manufacturing in China.
In your opinion, how has the Western fashion industry been embracing the rise of Chinese fashion designers?
Many Chinese fashion designers actually made their debut in the West since they study there. I think [the] media doesn’t really treat us differently, but our cultural background does seem interesting to them, as I was often asked about my background in interviews.