BY MARTHA SARUMPAET
Inspired by the hermaphrodite creatures of the deep sea, androgynous label Minming Zhou creates garments that subvert nature. The Naarm (Melbourne) based label, eponymously named after the designer herself, combines bespoke elements of menswear with feminine silhouettes to conceptualise the fluidity seen in nature.
Minming values innovation as a modern label that expresses ‘The Agency of The Metaverse’. As a creative individual and designer in the 21st century, Minming is pushed to find solutions outside of the boundaries.
Currently, all Minming Minming garments are 100% designed and made in Naarm (Melbourne). “As of right now it’s made to order and costume design work. I would usually only produce one piece at a time,” Minming jokes as she mentions her team. “It’s just my friends, but I call them my interns.”
With sustainability at the forefront, Minming is determined to expand her brand ethically. Thinking ahead to conceptualise possibilities, she discusses the use of unorthodox alternatives.
“I mostly want to do crazy stuff. I’m thinking of something like uploading my design process onto a block chain. I want to apply this technique in my business to minimise my manufacturing process and wastage in sampling and left-over stock. It still needs a lot of study and research in this field, but block-chain connects everyone together.”
Minming also considers possibilities of finding new natural fibres to incorporate in her garments, such as soybean. She explains the process: “I went to China and talked to a sustainable manufacturer that creates soybean fibre. They grind the soybean to powder and mix it with other natural ingredients. They heat the mixture and construct it into thread.”
Minming is constantly working within the realm of possibilities to keep her finger on the pulse.
Founded in 2022, Minming had established herself in her prior education, having completed an Associate Degree, Bachelors in Fashion Design, and currently in the process of completing her Masters in Fashion Entrepreneurship. Present day, Minming runs her own fashion label and attributes much of her skill and knowledge to her education.
“I feel like my first year at my associate degree was what helped me the most with technical solutions, it was very practical and not really about creativity but rather the technical aspect and how to take your idea from 0 to 1. I’ve always been creative, so in bachelors was where I got to explore my creativity. Now doing my masters, it’s pretty much like, ‘let’s run a business!’.”
With tailoring as a signature element throughout the label, Minming mentions failing pattern making classes as a ‘blessing in disguise’. “I remember I actually failed pattern making several times. But, I feel like that actually provided me a good opportunity to practice because now I think my strongest ability is pattern making.”
When it comes to Minming’s work ethic, she is highly motivated by establishing her personal style. Inspired by Marrine Serre’s origins as a designer, Minming aims to embody her essence throughout her designs. “I think she’s quite impressive, at such a young age achieving so much and sticking true to herself since creating her first collection. I admire this because I want to do the same, stay true to myself, rather than be trend influenced.”
Minming values the idea of authenticity, finding inspiration in fashion houses like Balenciaga. “They have an essence that stands out against all the other fashion houses. It’s like they don’t care, they give careless energy and yet it still feels intentional.” With this remark, Minming acknowledges that Balenciaga is entirely at fault for their recent controversy.
Having gained experience over the years, Minming has narrowed her design process down to one that is a little different to most. “Sometimes I just close my eyes and see the design. I skip the drawing, and go straight to pattern making, and then it becomes the piece. I rarely draw, because it’s so clear in my head what it’s gonna look like.”
Her intuitive process, combined with her technical skill are the foundations of the contemporary brand. Minming Zhou is set to present her 2023 collection at Revival Runway’s REVIVAL III runway show on Friday 26 May, 2023.