Fashion’s societal role and sustainability.
The Chinese it-designer returned to her Shanghai roots for her SS21 show and talks exclusively to Glamcult on her time in quarantine, sustainability and celebritism.
Having a degree from the Antwerp School of Design and designing clothes that land on covers and break the internet is common for Chinese designer Di Du. Her aesthetic and creative expression has also given her the opportunity to land major gigs with her outfits being worn by the likes of CL, Rosalía, Rico Nasty, Lil Miquela, Anok Yai, Sita Abellan and Brooke Candy to name a few. Di Du founded her brand just two years ago and quickly jumped on the fashion radar as the Chinese enfant terrible. When asked about her views on celebritism and how they affect brand identity, Di Du is humble in her response and explains that mutual affection is always there. “I feel flattered when people love my brand in general and obviously it is more exciting or flattering to see artists that I love wearing DIDU. When I feel this mutual affection, I have more motivation to continue,” explains Di Du.
For her SS21 collection, Di Du took over the iconic and historic Paramount Hall Shanghai for the runway presentation of her latest collection, titled “Under The Skin”. Di Du’s creations are not your archetypical ballroom attire, but for this collection, Di Du wanted to disrupt the common misconception of where up and coming designers belong in regards to showing collections. “Many people think that as a young brand, we should go to clubs or somewhere more youthful for our show, but we’re not. I hope everyone can understand that as an emerging brand, the way to create something new can also be through exploring ourselves. It is also important to recognise that DIDU, as a young designer brand also has a cultural background. This cultural heritage should not be forgotten nor ignored.”
DIDU’s SS21 collection titled “Under The Skin” came into fruition with inspiration primarily from the 2013 film by the same name, directed by Jonathan Glazer. Di Du explains that “When extraterrestrial beings imitate humans, they begin with clothing and makeup first. Meaning that to an extraterrestrial being, clothing is our first layer and to them, our skin.” It’s this concept that sparked the creative process for the collection, focusing primarily on the relationship between the garment and the body. It is also important to mention that for this collection, DIDU offered an innovative take on slit fabrics, inspired by the connection between the power and beauty of the human form. “This collection comes in 3 chapters: first is the world before the collapse, then chaos and the last one is the artificial world. The colour schemes also follow this pattern. The first step is described with black, the chaos is like an explosion with very colourful prints, and the new world is silver and acid green.”
Her SS21 show is also in collaboration with the concept store ENG and from the capsule collection exhibited in the show, five looks will be sold exclusively at the Shanghai-based multi-brand store. “I’m very careful with who I collaborate with because I think brand image today is very important, especially with the insane flux of information we are fed all the time. I think ENG and DIDU share similar values in fashion and culture. Thus our collaboration could bring these ideas to our audience and produce some positive impact.”
Quarantine and all the multifaceted issues surrounding the pandemic particularly affects the up and coming brands who don’t have mega fashion conglomerates backing their every move, but for Di Du, Covid-19 has given her time to analyse. “Since my quarantine, I have thought more about my vision of fashion, the way to articulate it with our culture and the environment.” What Covid-19 has also done for Di Du is to give her time to reflect on sustainability and the role of fashion in contemporary society. “2020 has been a challenging year for everyone, but in comparison, I think I was quite lucky. No one around me caught the Covid-19 virus and the brand is still running normally. As a young designer, it made me rethink the role fashion plays in society and I hope we can at the same time keep our dream alive without damaging the environment.”
It’s not easy being up and coming in 2020, even with the Covid-19 pandemic wiping out brands financially from left to right, Di Du appears to have all hands on deck, with a strong focus on the brand identity that put her on the fashion agenda in the first place. “I think the hardest part is to be different and memorable with all the fashion information spreading really fast, being sustainable without becoming unaffordable and of course the crisis we are going through right now. But I’m staying confident and passionate.” Her brand ethos and ideology hasn’t changed much over the past couple of years and this includes her latest SS21 collection, “With the latest collection, I want it to express the beauty of danger and warning, we should think about the future of the planet and us who are living on it, creating a beautiful dream but also seeing the upcoming challenge of the environment issue,” finishes Di Du.