A symbiosis of Human Wear
and Digital Design
By Yatin Srivastava
A symbiosis of Human Wear and Digital Design
and Digital Design
A self-described human wear and digital designer, Xiaoling Jin is not your usual 3D/Virtual Fashion designer. A Royal College of Art alumni, her company e-ternity aims to provide solutions and guide brands into the 3D and metaverse space. We recently had the pleasure to talk to her about her garments, her designs and her philosophy surrounding the creation of her art.
Yatin: How did your design journey begin?
Xiaoling Jin: I started fashion quite a long time ago. I studied fashion in China and Japan. That related to physical garment making and techniques - pattern cutting, sewing etc. Beyond that, I wanted to get more knowledge with respect to Fashion and clothes. That’s when I decided to pursue my Masters at the Royal College of Art because they had many multi disciplinary options and collaborative projects that would’ve helped me learn more about art aside from just the physical garment side. But during the pandemic, the physical garment work slowed down. It was a blessing in disguise as I wanted to learn 3D as I always into it, but the pandemic and covid time gave me time to learn and play with it, and that’s how i stepped into digital art and digital fashion.
Yatin: That’s amazing! Another thing that people don’t know about Digital Art is that most people in the West think it’s a relatively new concept, but in the east - especially in Japan and China, it’s been around for way longer. Especially with Anime, it’s not considered to be that left field.
Xiaoling Jin: Yes I feel like it made it easier for me to step into this field because I had a familiarity with it. so then I just literally sat in front of the computer and learnt how to make 3D art on YouTube! Once I started working on it, ai realized that I really enjoyed it and just kept going.
Yatin: With projects like Web Junkies and Gender Restriction, the entire concept behind it all other than just the garments was something that struck out for me strongly!
Xiaoling Jin: Yes, that is kind of the point of all my designs. I don’t just like making clothes. I try to view the whole space and surroundings around the clothes. Both of the projects have a background story to it and I tried to build the whole environment based on that. It essentially operates as an installation. It’s not just about the garment, but it’s about combining all different forms of art to showcase the garment or the piece.
Yatin: That’s really interesting, because world building is something that is done closer to or through Fashion shows, as opposed to your work - where the entire concept is presented in one go. It gives you a very strong idea of what you’re seeing.
Xiaoling Jin: I think with every project, when I start it - I like to combine different art forms - I collect a lot of pictures and experiments with installations, performance or other art forms beside the fashion aspect of it. I try to put all of these elements together and this world building is very important to my work and helps me create and tell a story through my work.
Yatin: Putting that in mind, did you take the same ethos when shifting to 3D?
Xiaoling Jin: With 3D and design, I use my own design philosophy of creating an entire world. I try to think about a utopian world, with the people and clothes being a part of this world. But as opposed to my physical process, the 3D process has very less limitations. The material space and structure gives me a lot of freedom to create something different and fresh. It gives me a different aesthetic. When I created my final project for RCA, I made the garment in the digital realm first and because it had a really different style, it inspired me to create something new when it came to creating the physical product.
Yatin: That’s very important, because I see more concepts digitally as opposed to actual physical products. It’s amazing to see that the digital realm inspired you to change your process or create something new with your physical garments.
Xiaoling Jin: I feel like 2D and 3D interact with each other, but working in 3D showed me this new way of working that was very helpful.
Yatin: That being said, what is it about 3D design that gets your creativity out?
Xiaoling Jin: 3D is firstly way quicker and it’s easier to see the desired effect. I don’t have to stand in front of the mannequin and drape for a few days. That to me is very exciting, sometimes you have ideas that you want to see instantly and 3D really helps with that. When you have the inspiration, you just want to make it real. It makes you actually realize if you want to indulge into a creative idea or not. It saves a lot of time in that process and helps capture the moment of creativity! Also with materials, it’s very easy to get an idea of how materials work digitally, whereas trying different fabrics out in real life is very costly and takes a lot of time.
Yatin: How did you go from working in 3D to forming e-ternity?
Xiaoling Jin: When I was studying RCA, there were a lot of students that worked with digital mediums. I ended up working with a couple of people on certain projects and it really helped build a rapport with each other. Another important thing we observed was that we are also not just makers but also the consumers of fashion. We know how much waste and pollution the fashion industry creates so we wanted to create new ways to make changes in this process. When we tried digital fashion, that’s where the idea of the platform came from - that’s where the idea to create clothes digitally and help brands do the same.
Yatin: That’s amazing, because what a lot of people don’t know is that when a collection is made, there are hundreds and thousands of samples that are disregarded and thrown away.
Xiaoling Jin: Absolutely! Even when you want to make a really nice dress, you try again and again to create the best version. Even with fabrics and materials, there’s so much rubbish and materials being thrown away. People don’t think of this. I personally had an awareness of the same and it was also during the pandemic, so it felt like the perfect idea. The pandemic really affected fashion brands and we wanted to help them chart their way into the new development in fashion, so that they could continue to have a business.
Yatin: And that goes directly to Decentraland that you launched and showcased at the Metaverse Fashion Week! Where did the concept of that metaverse come into being?
Xiaoling Jin: We made a video called ‘Symbiosis’ and the inspiration for that came from the immense pollution and waste in the sea and how it was affecting sea life and sea creatures. We used a lot of elements like plastic waste, bottles, broken glasses etc. that you can see in the video to showcase how sea creatures suffer because of the action of human beings. We had a big difference in color to showcase the difference between their happy life and then how the impact of human activity was. It was interesting to people - they wanted to know why certain colors were used or why the contrast was strong etc. We used these strong images along with the text and the story to explain the concept.
Yatin: How was the experience at Metaverse Fashion Week?
Xiaoling Jin: It was a really cool space to interact with designers from around the world. The interaction was a lot fun and it was assuring to know that there are other people around the world who are trying to do the same thing as you and that you’re not existing alone in silos with digital design and digital fashion!
Yatin: What’s in store for the future of your work and e-eternity?
Xiaoling Jin: We have our on design style, but we’re trying to try different things and we want to build our own community. We are thinking of planning physical events and interact with people who are interested in our work. We want to create more products along with more projects that I can’t talk about right now, but we are very excited for it.
Yatin: Lastly, what advice would you give to young designers and brands who are thinking of entering into the digital fashion space?
Xiaoling Jin: Firstly, I think it’s amazing that more and more people want to move to digital fashion and try it out. But also, I think it’s become really trendy and a lot of people want to get the tag of being a digital fashion designer. To me, it’s more important to convey the ethos or design language of your brand or work and it’s important to think more critically about if it matches your brand and your design philosophy rather than just jumping into it. Don’t follow the trend.