The creative spirit our industry deserves.

Although she completed her master’s degree in fashion design last year with a remarkable collection of graduates, Carol (Jialu) Yang is still not sure if she wants to pursue fashion design. She says that every time she spent the night studying for an upcoming assessment, she wondered why she had even chosen her in the first place.

Carol wouldn’t exactly call herself a fashion designer either. Instead, she explains that she falls somewhere between “fashion designer” and “artist.”

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It’s a fair call when you look at his work. His process eschews traditional design elements to instead create garments that can exist separately from the body as “sculptures of activity.”

His process is a bit different too. Where most designers will create illustrations of how they envision their clothes, Carol instead completes her designs at the end. It’s part of her creative process and as she notes, more importantly, an acceptable excuse to rationalize her tendency to procrastinate.

It is this theme of procrastination that she has chosen to explore for her graduation collection, as a way to understand (and hopefully overcome) her own behaviors. Whether or not it worked is hard to say, but the end result is a collection of graduates unlike any we’ve seen in some time here at fashion magazine. It was this collection that earned Carol a spot as one of the top 10 designers in the 2022 National Graduate Showcase at the 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 profile each designer through a series of interviews, starting with Carol.

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

I am Carol (Jialu) Yang, recent graduate of Master of Fashion (Design) at RMIT. I completed my honors degree in 2019 and designed a fashion collection, Made in China and designed in China, redefining the meaning of Chinese fashion.

Last year was a new beginning for me, moving from traditional fashion collections to a more contemporary fashion project. Each of my collections begins by exploring my own bizarre perspective on fashion and presenting it in unconventional ways.

I prefer to leave the design itself in an unknown space, rather than planning each step, so that my final illustration is always complete after the design is completely finished. And of course, it’s also a nice excuse for my procrastination.

Ah yes, procrastination! It’s a key part of your graduate collection. Can you tell us a bit more?

The project is called Do you procrastinate? and comprised of six series: “Hard to Move”, “Stiff Body”, “Results for Last Minutes”, “Replaceable Arm”, “Pomodoro Technique Assistant”, and “Welcome to Procrastinators’ World”.

Procrastination is a complex psychological activity. Everyone’s procrastination is different and has various reasons and feelings behind it. This project takes the procrastinator himself as the protagonist and aims to demonstrate his variety of mental activities in a visualized form.

Based on the fashion industry‘s procrastination to deal with fashion waste, it has become a major material in the project. As a result, there are unexpected objects used throughout my work.

My creations retain their main function of being worn on the body, while being able to exist independently as an “activity sculpture”. The aim is to express and amplify the feelings of procrastination in a humorous way, but at the same time, to bring the objects into this definition of auxiliary maneuverability for the wearers.

What were the main points of inspiration for your graduation collection?

For the past two years – when we have all been slightly or severely impacted by Covid-19 – procrastination has been a widespread phenomenon in the general population. In fact, it has latently affected the life of adults as well as students for a long time.

According to research data, the vast majority of college students exhibit procrastination behavior. It’s such a large number of students and to be honest, I’m also one of those data contributors.

This tendency to procrastination has bothered me since my year of specialization. I tried to find out the reasons why I do it, to save myself academically. That’s why I decided to explore this topic.

Tell us about the experience of building your collection of graduates.

At the beginning of my master’s year, we started with an activity called “My wardrobe” where we had to identify specific characteristics of our clothes. I discovered that I had a lot of unused clothes, left for many years even, that I no longer wore. How to treat these garments and if they can be reused is the starting point of my design work.

I would like to thank my neighbors for donating their useless clothes to me at a time when all second-hand shops have been closed because of Covid-19. This resulted in my living room piling up in a clothes recycling bin and irritating my mom for an entire year.

Did you procrastinate in creating this collection?

When I tried to connect the themes of fashion and procrastination, I was lost, finding no connection. After that, I explored using procrastination in my design process.

For example, I created a ‘time system’ game for 10 minutes, using a cross shape to create a grid of four separate areas and filling each with clothing. The game starts from the top left corner and asks me to “complete” the four grids counter-clockwise.

The times completed for each square are recorded, documenting the process of my design work. I often finished the fourth grid after the allotted time, even though I knew I only had 10 minutes. The experiment also shows the work of a procrastinator over different periods, from the first neat and regular grid to the messy last grid.

Aside from our collective dithering to solve the fashion waste problem, what about the Australian fashion industry that needs to change?

Compared to other countries, Australia seems to lack artistic craziness. Most Australian design follows the retail market aesthetic – simple and classic, it would never go wrong. This seems to be the style of most high end luxury brands. But we still need a few bolder designers to disrupt this calm lake.

What’s next for you?

It’s a question I ask myself every day since graduating.

This year is a new challenge for me because my creations escape the traditional fashion design process. This also puts me in an ambiguous position. Am I a fashion designer? Or an artist? Or a character in between? I must first understand who I am.

Right now, I’m still going to focus on collaboration, working with other creators from different fields. Then I will look for the position that suits me best. Or maybe I’ll act like a normal grad student to get a job first, who knows.

Some of Carol’s answers have been edited for clarity. To learn more about the designer’s work, visit here.