A chat with New York City-based fashion designer, who established her eponymous brand soon after completing the Parsons Fashion Design and Society MFA program in 2022. Her label seamlessly blends avant-garde, inventive techniques with traditional craftsmanship, challenging conventional norms and transforming ordinary items in the realm of fashion design.
Let us begin at the very conception of Weiraen as a label – what motivated you to pursue a career as a fashion creative, and how did Weiraen come to be?
I moved to New York to pursue a MA degree in Fashion Design at Parsons in 2019. It was quite a natural transition for me as I approached the end of the program. I really can’t see myself doing anything else than creating my own brand and building my own visual language, especially after presenting my thesis collection. I realized how much I enjoyed creating a complete collection, even though it was a mentally and physically draining process. The debut collection was the starting point for weiræn with how well it was received on social media and with press. With that encouragement and positive feedback, I decided to embark on this journey.
Weiraen has rightfully won its place in the realm of fashion labels which keep blurring the line that separates traditional clothing-making from a more contemporary form of conceptual fashion design. What does it take for an upcoming talent as yourself to be a multidisciplinary in addition to the effort it takes to be a designer?
It takes a lot of hard work for sure. I never want to put boundaries on myself and I’m always pushing myself to study and explore things that are outside of just fashion and garments. I was very interested in 3D scanning, modeling and printing during my time at Parsons, and I invested so much time and energy in the experiments of these technologies and in linking that knowledge to my design. Now I’m quite an expert in 3D printing but I’m ready to move on to the next thing.
Last year you were one of the 30 creatives who worked with Nick Knight and Jazzelle (@uglyworldwide) on an exclusive NFT collection titled ikon-1. What was that experience like, and what is your opinion on the rapid digitalisation of fashion?
Nick Knight is such an iconic figure in the fashion industry, so I was so shocked and thrilled at the same time when I got the email from his team. The actual collaboration process was surprisingly smooth and organic. SHOWstudio is a team of professional who are incredibly supportive to new designers. I think the rapid digitalization of fashion is inevitable, but I didn’t integrate it into my visual language just because it was a trendy thing to do.
In the past you’ve spoken out about being inspired by “the symbiosis of the organic and the artificial”, and one can’t help but notice how this concept has shaped the nucleus of Weiraen as a brand. Where does your fascination with this unorthodox coexistence come from?
I have a natural instinct and curiosity to observe little details in life, and manifesting from those observations and thinking out of the box. Whenever I see something ordinary, I can’t help but expand from it, thinking a lot about the logic behind it and its infinite possibilities in the future.
Weiraen’s most recent collection offers a range of read-to-wear, in contrast to your first collection which was entirely comprised of made to order pieces. Was this a shift you were planing to undertake, and do you intent to tap into the RTW market more often in the future?
After my debut collection, I saw a new challenge for myself would be looking for a better balance between artistic expression and wearability. I always want to make works that are innovative and groundbreaking, but at the same time I don’t want this to be a constraint to reach a broader audience. Creating a RTW capsule collection is my first step into that direction, and it was a testament to my capability as a designer. I will never stop making dramatic, other-worldly pieces as they are essential in my aesthetics, but I don’t want my design to be inaccessible to my audience as well. You will see both couture, made-to-order only design, as well as wearable pieces in the collections to come.
New York is notorious for its multifaceted fashion and art scenes, but we’re all familiar with the lengths people go through in order to establish themselves in a city of such magnitude. How did you manage to navigate through NYC’s demanding environment as an upcoming brand? Any word of advice to other aspiring designers out there?
New York is where I lived and studied so it was a natural starting point for me. In New York, it is very easy to make friends with designers or creative talents of some sorts so I can constantly learn from them, whether it be their success or failure in designing and in creating a brand. It might sound like a cliché but New York has been the most inspiring city to me and most of our audience also live here, since New Yorkers are the most receptive to new trends and new design. I’m not at a position to give advice to other aspiring designers yet as I’m still growing and have so much more to learn.
Your creations have been worn by a number of celebrities, ranging from Julia Fox to Halle Bailey. Who would you like to see wearing Weiraen in the future?
Hunter Schafer, Grimes, Zendaya…… The list goes on. Once I am done with a collection I love seeing it worn by others, traveling to different places on their own. It’s like the collection has a life of its own beyond mine. This allows so many other people to use my work in different ways that I haven’t even thought of. This in turn inspires my creativity.
You create intricately crafted jewellery and accessories with an otherworldly appearance. Can you briefly talk us though the technical process behind these designs?
Usually I start with thinking about how to utilize the common materials around me to visualize the virtual reality-ish, futuristic sense in my design, using the most accessible to make what seems unrealistic tangible.
We look forward to seeing what the future holds for Weiraen. But until then, is there anything you’d like to share with us about your upcoming projects?
I have already started working on my next collection and really hoping to bring this one back to the runway. Please stay tuned!
▶ Play video
Weiraen / Bridging the Gap Between Real & Virtual
Director & music: @drizzlinnnnng
Model: monika lagadze & ming zhou
Styling assistants: ray & @k._sying