VFILES Runway: Meet The Season 7 Designers

VFILES Runway: Meet The Season 7 Designers

VFILES Runway: Meet The Season 7 Designers

In this week’s edition of his Emerging Designers column, Mathias Rosenzweig interviews the five competitors who will be featured at tonight's runway show. MeeT the future of fashion

In this week’s edition of his Emerging Designers column, Mathias Rosenzweig interviews the five competitors who will be featured at tonight's runway show. MeeT the future of fashion


Today marks the seventh installation of VFILES Runway, the fashion collective's seasonal show celebrating emerging design talent. This time around, the five up-and-comers were hand selected by none other than mentors Naomi Campbell, Young Thug, Pat McGrath, Jerry Lorenzo and Mel Ottenberg. Julie Anne Quay, VFILES CEO and Founder says, “The VFILES platform has enabled us to break down barriers and bring the global youth community together. Young designers from China, Belgium, Italy, NYC, and Mexico will create a fashion show that will be unlike anything else. We couldn’t be happier to continue disrupting the traditional fashion cycle.”

Read our interviews with the next generation of fashion designers below.


How old are you and where are you from? 

I’m 25 and from Naples, Italy.

What makes you happiest about being part of VFILES Runway?  

First of all, I was chosen out of a lot of people, and the show will be in New York—my favorite city. Actually, I’m a little bit scared, but also excited about this, as well as the album cover for Young Thug's No, My Name Is Jeffery. Everybody is going crazy over it, and I’m so happy. But it's a bit overwhelming…it was my first experience working with a celebrity.

How has self-expression enhanced your life?

I’ve overcome oppression through my work and designs. I created three new looks for the show that are going to specifically showcase this.

What did you learn while studying in Japan? 

Well, I studied a lot. But while I was in college, I’d give my professors updates twice a week on the process of my collection. I was exploring the city a lot because I wanted to learn all about Japanese culture and visit everything I possibly could. And now, I really feel like Japan is amazing—it’s completely different than America or Europe. I just love it.

What are your views on gender and its boundaries?

For me, boundaries just don’t exist. I think that we should simply be what we want to be.


What has been your greatest success yet? 

My greatest success so far is the collaboration with Young Thug! The web has gone mad!

Why is fashion important to you? 

It’s key because it's a way to express myself. Like I said before: we have to just be what we want to be, or what we really are.


What made you want to be a part of VFILES RUNWAY? 

We're very excited to be a part of the because we always thought that Ground Zero was very suitable to be a part of the show—and the most exciting thing is to have the mentors select us out of all the applications. To have this opportunity to be selected by such super icons in fashion is such a proud moment for Ground Zero. We’re pumped to work, collaborate, and learn from them.

What is it like to be working together as brothers? 

Eri and I have very different personalities. Eri is more relaxed, calm and a little more conservative in a good way, whereas I'm a more outgoing and experimental. The good thing is we share a lot of same interests and aesthetics since we grew up together, so we understand each other's differences as well as similarities and make that work in our designs. It's also great being working partners because we can be as blunt as we want and have no hesitation with our thoughts and ideas since we are brothers.

How do you take pop culture influences and infuse them into your pieces? 

Pop culture has been influencing me since I was a little boy. It's very prominent and influential in Hong Kong. HK is also such a fast paced city, which I think relates back to pop culture, because it’s very direct and fast, too. And I also like to observe different people, products or packaging and having elements from it them that we can use in our designs, making it more [about] lifestyle and relatable to our viewers.

Are there any boundaries to your experimentation in designing? 

When we first started, we experimented with a lot of different materials and methods. For example, we tried to apply hologram cards onto clothing, and the effect was quite cool. And we also worked with a technician to remove motor engines and apply it onto clothing so it can fold itself. But now that we have done a lot of collections and found our own identity as a label, we believe that clothes should strike a balance between coolness, edginess and ready-to-wear style and comfort.

When did you and your brother decide you both wanted to work in fashion? 

We both loved fashion since we were kids. We always wanted to be the most stylish toddlers. I [was very influenced by] my brother since he would always share his thoughts and views on clothing with me. For example, he would take me to Jean Paul Gaultier to just look at clothes, and we would discuss how cool and nice the silhouette or print was. So eventually, we realized we loved fashion, but we never gave a thought to become fashion designers. In 2003, I was fired from my job, and my brother felt he wasn't so suited for his job as well. So we decided to do something that is about ourselves. We first started with printed t-shirts and thought [this would be our direction]. We had a very small collection. Instead, we got very good and positive feedback. Several shops began to carry our collection and celebrities began wearing our tees. So in 2008, we began our label, Ground Zero. We named it this because it represents us, where we are starting out from the "ground" and starting from "zero." And it also represents hope to us, because we started out from nothing and we're hoping to create a new journey for ourselves.

What movie, music video, award show, etc. had the best fashions and why? 

It’s very hard to define what's "best," or the most "fashionable," or had the best "styling." Because fashion doesn't necessarily mean clothing alone; it's also about a subculture. If I had to pick though, it would be Madonna’s "Vogue" music video. It was very avant-garde at the time; the outfit designed by Jean Paul Gaultier was so surprising in terms of fashion. And the lyrics to the song were just a perfect match with fashion.

What do you hope to accomplish with your line?

I hope my clothes can bring a positive mood and let the wearer express him or herself in a way that they want it to. Something like adding more edginess or character to who they already are

Why do you think fashion is important? 

Fashion is important because it helps you express yourself. Your taste, your culture, your attitude is all encoded in the clothing that your wearing.


How did you hear about VFILES Runway?

I heard about this contest from Hyein Seo; she was also a student from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, and participated two years ago.

What is the fashion scene like in Antwerp? 

It’s full of talented people from different crafts and cultures. There’s something in the air—I can feel a change of scene coming up. We are all trying to break the rules in our own way. I believe change is a good thing, and the fashion industry needs “rebels” to keep on questioning themselves and the industry.

What type of emotional response to you hope to trigger with your clothes?

For me, it’s important that the viewer can relate to my story in his or her own way. Whether the emotion be sad, angry or happy is up to them. I believe I’m here to start the conversation. How I feel about the world around me, I express through my work, so you can look at it as my personal diary. I believe this is important to the relevance of a collection.

What did you learn in Santo Domingo and New Zealand that changed the way you design? 


It really opened my eyes to see people being creative and original without having much clothing or money. What really changed for me is that I’m no longer aspiring for perfection like I used to. I’m finding myself more interested in the faults and the imperfections. Letting go and keeping space open for mistakes can lead to new things.

What makes your line unique from others? 

Uniqueness for me means personality. This is something that makes me different from the rest. Over the years, I got to embrace and develop this. I find myself looking back at my Caribbean roots all the time. Between Caribbean virility and femininity lays a very thin layer. Men are idle. I think this is why my style is elegant and contains a certain hint of soul. It’s not something that’s taught at school. It’s in my blood.

What are your hopes for this line? 

I hope that the collection gets noticed worldwide. It would be amazing if my collection could be sold in several beautiful stores.

Does your personal style match that of your clothing? 

Yeah, it would be hard for me to do anything else. Since designing garments is so personal to me, I would never make something I wouldn’t want to wear myself.

What would you be doing if not fashion? 

Maybe I’d be a surgeon. The process of making a garment can be a hell of an operation.


How did you hear about VFILES RUNWAY? 

When I was at University, I actually applied with my graduate collection, but didn’t make it until now. I am so blessed for the opportunity.


How old are you and where are you from? 

I’m 28 and from a small Catholic town in the south of Mexico called Mérida.

Does your education in industrial engineering ever come into play when designing clothes?

I love how menswear is more structured and stable. I guess my engineering degree did affect me in some ways—everything connects to everything else. Don’t let me inside of a hardware store—I would go crazy.


How do you incorporate your Mexican heritage into your personal style or your brand? 

It’s very important to have a clear vision of your identity as a designer. My work is deeply linked to my Mexican DNA and influenced by emotional elements…with all their complexities. I was very lucky to have been born with such a culturally rich heritage and beautiful craftsmanship surrounding me. Since I lived abroad for almost five years, I felt the need to over-express my nationality. Maybe I was homesick. Plus, a little Mexican stimulation is always a good idea.

You say your brand is curated by an emotional chaos. Can you explain this? 

Our lives are full of feelings that can oppose one another. Sometimes, it’s good to reflect on our ideas and views, perhaps without even really having time for retrospection, and thus spontaneously putting them out there and seeing their interaction with the world. The contrast between “rigid” and “volatile” forms a perfect chaos.

When did you decide to pursue fashion professionally? 


Halfway through my engineering degree, I had some health issues that made me recognize how empty I felt, and how little pleasure I had doing thing for other people…not expressing my voice. I talked to my parents about studying fashion and they supported me only if I finished my degree, as it was a “solid career.” One year later, I was on my way to Florence where I studied fashion design at Polimoda International Institute of Fashion Design & Marketing, and I’ve been designing ever since.

What do you hope to accomplish with this line? What are your goals? 

To make America gay again. Not to loose my voice in this industry or compromise my vision and aesthetic. Would love to collaborate with other brands and in the future to tell stories from different artistic approaches.

Why do you think fashion is important? 

I think fashion is a daily way to provoke yourself and expose our emotional selves. We need to portray our perception of beauty, even if it contains: brutality, fear, ugliness and our darkest selves… stop worrying too much about wanting to please everyone.


How old are you and where are you from? 

I just turned 25. Was born and raised in Korea. I moved to upstate New York at the age of 16 and now live in NYC.

Why did you want to be a part of VFILES Runway? 

I was kind of shocked when I first heard about it. I think it’s one of the very few (or maybe the only) competitive platforms that anyone can be a part of. This provides a great opportunity to all of the talented people around the world, and it connects people across the glove to stimulate creativity. I think that this is really progressive, and probably how the industry will work in the future.

What do you try to do with your line that's different than others? 


I try to make my designs as original as possible, but I don’t think I’m naturally creative enough to make something quite so extraordinary. When I was in college, I heard a lot of comments and criticism about my designs, saying they were too literal to the concept instead of being abstract. But I actually like that I tend to do that. I want the viewer or the customer to understand my concept before I even explain what it is. I care about the concept way more than the outcome.

What would you be doing if not fashion? 

I’m really interested in filmmaking and even set a goal to make at least three feature films in 20 years. I’ve already been researching and writing some stories whenever I have time. I have some video experience, but it was mostly commerce. I’m planning to continue my video career while I keep doing fashion at the same time.

Are your clothes representative of your personal style as well? 

I don't spend a lot of money on clothes, so I always wear the same casual things everyday. But I’m sure my collection is connected to my personal style since both of them always follow the general flow of what’s trendy of that very moment.

Why is fashion important? 

Because you can’t live without clothes as a member of a society. Regardless of who you are, where you’re from or what your status is, you own clothes, and you can do a lot of things with them.

What has been your greatest accomplishment or success so far? 

I think it's being a part of VFILES Runway!


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