Designer Nuoqi Shen calls for self-expression in her graduation collection

The customizable creations of this young designer adapt to all body types.

Melbourne-based designer Nuoqi Shen believes in creating designs that transcend gender stereotypes. By Independentits collection of unisex designs, is made to be shared and each piece has been painstakingly crafted – think removable and adjustable features – so that one size fits all.

The contemporary collection not only suits a range of genders and body types, but has been designed with sustainability in mind. Using zero-waste cutting techniques for its patterns and creating its organic cotton garments, Nuoqi sees sustainable manufacturing as central to its design process.

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This year, Nuoqi was shortlisted as one of the top ten finalists for this year’s National Graduate Showcase at PayPal Melbourne Fashion Festival.

fashion magazine is delighted to once again be a supporting partner of the showcase, presented this year by Samsung Galaxy, to celebrate Australia’s top-ranked emerging fashion talent. The event will see a number of top fashion graduates from across the country showcasing their visionary collections in a digital presentationshowcasing cutting-edge design and innovation.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be profiling each designer through a series of interviews. The next step is Nuoqi.

Hi Nuoqi! Thank you for introducing yourself to our readers.

Hi, I’m Nuoqi Shen. I am a recent graduate of RMIT’s Bachelor of Fashion Design. I am from China and have been studying in Melbourne for three years. Studying at RMIT and living in this lovely city has really developed my creativity and my passion for fashion design.

Tell us about your collection.

This is a contemporary collection of unisex outerwear with a new high street and edgy influence.[s] that go beyond gender stereotypes and embrace the versatility of fashion through creative designs that suit people of all body types, genders and sizes.

Men and women may have different body shapes, but [they] have the same spirit. Breaking the stereotype of men and women in society encourages modern men and women to face life with optimism and vigor and to establish and express their independent personality and individual identity regardless of gender stereotypes. [My collection is about] showing determination and boldness through a clean, flowing design expression.

The collection emphasizes the practical and versatile performance of the designs and addresses sustainability. The designs involve zero waste pattern cutting techniques and offer unique and varied styling solutions through adjustable and detachable features. The designs are adjustable and transformative, allowing [a] fit both male and female bodies and create different styles that fit multiple occasions.

When did you know you wanted to get into fashion and textile design?

I have always been interested in fashion and textiles since [I was] young, but I was more sure that I wanted to develop my career in this field since I started learning at university which [is when] I really found that fashion design is something I can get [to do to make] my mind keeps creating things, and it’s such a joy when I see my creativity coming to [life with] the real products.

What were the main points of inspiration for your collection, and for you more broadly as a designer?

The influence of my culture and the environment I live in, as well as the design process in exploring and experimenting with inclusive fashion. I always explore the interaction and integration of Eastern and Western cultures in my creations.

Plus, taking the process of designing prototypes as part of my inspiration pushes the boundaries of creativity. For my aesthetic, I like cool contemporary styles with great attention to detail, and I always keep a balance between femininity and masculinity in my designs.

You have deliberately taken a commercial approach to your collection of graduates. Why?

I enjoy designing for a wider audience and for emerging social consciousness and trends. I want more people to feel and express their identity by wearing my design. By the way, I plan to create my own label.

You notice that you’ve tailored your collection to fit people of different body shapes, genders, and heights. Can you tell us about it? How did you proceed and what challenges did you encounter?

I designed many adjustable details in my designs to allow fit on different sizes and genders. The styles are fluid and unisex. Designs allow clothes to be shared between couples and friends, too [they] are easier to pass to an operations store. The challenge was to experiment and test to make sure each modification looked good [and also] in shape [well].

What role does sustainability play in your design practice? And other ethical considerations?

My collection addresses sustainability in terms of zero waste pattern cutting techniques and offerings [a] unique and varied styling solutions through adjustable and detachable features. The materials I purchased are organic cotton. The collection doesn’t necessarily take sustainability as a theme, but I see sustainability as the core of my design embedded in all of my work.

What about the Australian fashion industry that needs to change?

I think the manufacturing part of the industry is of most concern. It is very difficult for small businesses and independent designers to find materials and manufacturers. Many companies and designers are limited to scaling up.

What’s next for you?

I will continue to study for the honors degree at RMIT. In the meantime, I’m planning the launch of my label.

Learn more about Nuoqi, Chief here.

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