After graduating from the Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Chinese designer Di Du established her eponymous brand in 2018. She is now based in Shanghai.
How do you define the future?
Future to me means changes: the evolving self and the world around us. Future means endless possibilities and self-potential; it means chances for problem solving and growth.
Why is the future such an important element of fashion?
The future is crucial in fashion because this industry is deeply associated with the concept of time. Before the start of every season, we analyse future trends and preview our collection. People who work in this industry are always living ahead of the time. I was already thinking about 2022 while presenting our SS21 collection. In other words, the future is our present. At the same time, fashion is the combination of business and art; it plays a leading role in the development of our society; and has the potential to affect the future paths of other industries as well.
What is one global or social issue currently shaping fashion’s future?
I would say it is global warming. It is also the topic for this season’s collection. Many rules and focuses have changed since I started paying attention to the fashion industry. Fashion used to be less political and had fewer social responsibilities. Now, these are all aspects of design we need to consider when coming up with new collections. For example, banning the use of real fur and leather; encouraging organic and decomposable materials; upcycling; curating shows and events revolving the theme of sustainable development, etc. All attests to the increasing recognition of social and political responsibilities that the fashion industry is taking up and implementing.
What is one thing we can start doing now that could positively impact our future?
Over-production and over-packaging within the fashion industry has been one of the biggest problems that contributes to pollution and major environmental damage. It is important for us to find a more sustainable system to produce with less waste – and package products with more consideration and moderation. Start small and step-by-step is the key.
What concerns you about the future?
Sometimes I feel like the me living in this digitized world is no longer the real me. It is as if my life has already been coded into the vast entity of the future. Sometimes I wonder: will there still be a definitive line between the digital world and reality in the future? The vague line between what makes us human and the abilities of what artificial intelligence can do to mimic us; will there be a day when we can no longer distinguish ourselves between the codes?
What excites you about the future?
Our discovery of the universe. The potential that this world and beyond offer to our living experience.
Your wish for the future?
The thought of being able to travel to another planet beside earth has always been fascinating to me. One day, I wish the opportunity to do so can be available to a more general public. It’s the technology and the possibility to explore a whole different world besides ours that intrigues me.
Do you think about the future when creating a collection?
Coming up with new designs and collections is about putting forward ideas and innovations through designs that represent or assist the future. Creating a collection is like problem solving ahead of time; it is identifying what’s current and what will be significant, then providing an interpretation or solution to the future. So, yes, I think about the future when creating a collection.
What is the most defining idea or look in this collection?
The most defining idea of this collection is to view humanity through a third-person perspective, as illustrated by the theatrical elements. Combining technology, sustainability and scenes of the beach to explore the potential future of bodies and forms. The contrast between the beach, which symbolizes form in its most primitive and natural ways, and technology, which represents the future, shine light to the plausible harmony of present and future, reality and fantasy, nature and technology. One of the signature looks to note in this collection is the open front swimsuit paired with towel skirt and sleeves.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.