Chiang Xiaojun, the founder of Singapore-based boutique, PLEATATION, reveals how she fused fashion with technology in her latest Resort 1718 collection.
From doodling dresses during her pre-teen days to attaining a degree in Fashion Design, Xiaojun’s path to pursuing her dream may have been clear-cut but the process was far from glamorous. Nonetheless, the countless hours behind the sewing machine paid off as Xiaojun is now the founder and designer of Singapore’s first pleat-focus concept label, Pleatation.
Launched in 2012, the women’s fashion label carries a multitude of designs and styles with various patterns and choices of pleats. One of the things we love about Xiaojun is that she is always evolving.
She recently collaborated with Textile & Fashion Federation Singapore (TaFf) and took part in FashionisTech 2017, an initiative that encourages the integration of fashion and technology. In her latest Resort 1718 collection, Xiaojun adopts new digital printing techniques using innovative dye sublimation and direct-to-garment printing technologies from printing company Epson Singapore. Xiaojun tells more.
I think it is really important to move with the times. I believe that it would be a perfect blend to be able to balance a digitalised brand that still has a human aesthetic.
Image: Founder, Chiang Xiaojun
Pleatation is a pleat-focused concept store. How did the idea of using pleats as a foundation of your designs come to be?
Ever since I graduated from fashion school, an opportunity came by for me to run a pleating production company. Since then, we have been doing all kinds of pleating production for designers and manufacturers.
I realised that this pleating technique was really an art (a dying art in fact!) and it held so many possibilities in creation. So I started doodling again, and that’s how Pleatation started! We became a brand that focuses in all sorts of pleated products, not just in fashion, but also in stationery, home and lifestyle.
How did your collaboration with FashionisTech 2017/TaFf happen?
So middle of last year, TaFf approached me on this interesting project, where they wanted to fuse technology with fashion. The partner they had in mind for me was Epson, a company that specialises in digital printing. I thought it was a good mix of brands, as my design sense is also strong in colour and prints – so it was good to be able to see how we could work together in bringing out the kind of vibrancy I wanted in my designs through digital printing.
You’ve collaborated with Epson to use digital printing in your latest Resort 1718 collection, Le Enchant. Tell us more about the design process.
For the Resort 1718 collection, the inspiration really came about mostly from wanting to challenge the vibrancy of colours Epson printers could achieve. I wanted to find out if they could really print a colour that was vibrant, and not stray from my original artwork. I came about a beautiful image of an enchanted forest and started researching more about different forests in the world and how they look during different seasons and weathers.
I got inspired by the colour palette and decided to adapt and translate it into this collection. At the start, I was pretty concerned that the colours of the print might appear too dull, and may not represent my brand very well. So I also prepared different versions of the original artwork in different vibrancy and saturation levels just to ensure I could reprint in time if the colour didn’t come out as anticipated.
Surprisingly, the result was better than I expected. The colours were very vibrant – in fact, even more, saturated than I expected it to be! Through this collection, I realised that this was also a great way to create a stronger branding for Pleatation, by subtly having the brand name printed onto the fabrics without being too loud or too showy.
What is your take on integrating fashion with technology?
I think it is really important to move with the times. Technology is so updated now, we even have ‘sewbots‘ that can do the sewing for you. It feels like one day we wouldn’t even need a human production team anymore. Having said that, we definitely still need the human touch. I believe that it would be a perfect blend to be able to balance a digitalised brand that still has a human aesthetic.
Do you have any advice for emerging designers/new store owners?
It’s important to know what’s trending and improving around you. With the advancement of technology, it would be beneficial to learn more about it and see how it can be advantageous in growing your brand.
In your opinion, what is the current and future state of the fashion industry in Singapore?
I feel that Singaporeans have taken a step up compared to 5 years ago. Consumers are daring to dress, and they are more fashion conscious, constantly keeping tabs on the trends around the world. I think that’s great, but I feel that our culture is still not open enough in setting trends in Singapore (accepted trends, that is!). We tend to follow trends based on European styles and what is popular at the moment.
What is your wardrobe philosophy?
Colours! I think what you wear speaks a lot about yourself.
How would you describe your personal style? Does it translate to your designs?
I love colours! I do have my occasional days of all-black wear, those are probably my lazy days when I just don’t feel like dressing up. But on usual days, I love prints and happy colours. It really brightens up your day and styling up with accessories is always fun!
Yes, it definitely translates to my designs – I have always been with colours even when I was younger, I love to mix and match colours and prints. You can totally see them in all the colours and prints available in our store.