Minming Zhou takes a futuristic approach to genderless fashion

“I wanted the brand to be a mix of masculinity and femininity, a fluid collection that embraces the yin-yang balance.”

Melbourne/Naarm designer Minming Zhou has dreamed of running her own fashion label since she can remember, though it’s noticing the lack of exciting gender-neutral options in the fashion space that keeps her going. inspired her to launch her eponymous brand.

Minming takes an innovative approach to her androgynous designs. Inspired by futurism, she uses new technologies to bring her extraterrestrial pieces to life, both in the physical realm and in the digital world.

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Rather than camouflaging the body in oversized styles that seek to disguise, Minming Zhou’s collection infuses masculine and feminine elements to allow for expression and experimentation.

Tell us about you. What is your fashion/jewellery background?

My name is Minming. You can also call me Eva. I’m 24 years old. I recently graduated from RMIT University with a Masters in Fashion Entrepreneurship. Previously, I studied a bachelor’s degree in fashion design where I practiced traditional fashion design as well as 3D fashion and 3D jewelry design. I have worked as a stylist, creative director and in sales for luxury fashion brands.

How did the label start? Tell us about the process and the challenges.

This is going to sound cliché, but I’ve always wanted to start my own label since I was a kid. I remember writing a letter to myself in 10th grade class, and I said to myself, “Dear future Minming, I hope you have already launched your own fashion brand when you open this letter again.

However, I felt officially ready to start this label three months ago when I had the opportunity to use it as a college assessment. It was also a journey of discovery of my own style, where I started experimenting with mixing men’s clothing with women’s clothing and eventually implemented this idea into my design. At first I felt uncomfortable shopping in the menswear section and when I interviewed my friends they shared the same struggle. Whether it’s shopping in a hyper-feminine store or facing judgment by dressing ‘androgynous’. This is what led me to imagine a brand exclusive to those who appreciate experimentation.

My creative process is based on people’s stories, my own experiences and the cultural environment in which we live; I re-imagine these subjects in a universe I created full of extraterrestrial creatures, and pull these ideas into a sculpture in fashion form. The challenge is to bring these ideas to life, especially the technical part, to research them and design them with a thoughtful and environmentally friendly approach.

What were you trying to achieve from the project at the time? How has that evolved and what are you trying to communicate through the brand now?

At first I just wanted to create a wardrobe of what I would wear because when I go shopping there is always something I want to change. Especially these days when a lot of “gender neutral” brands or collections are really just oversized sweaters – I feel like that defeats the purpose of gender fluidity, because gender neutrality is about blurring differences rather than masking them.

As I met like-minded people, I realized that I wanted the brand to be a blend of masculinity and femininity, a fluid collection that embraces balance and acceptance of yin and yang, welcoming everyone to express their unique identity. I would like to include digital fashion as a product category in the future, while physical collection can be a natural extension of the metaverse.

How would you describe Minming Zhou to someone who has never seen him before?

Minming Zhou is a Melbourne based gender fluid brand dedicated to developing size flexible clothing for them, him and her. Minming Zhou considers itself a metaverse agency because it is influenced by futurism and uses technology. Its collections include both digital fashion and apparel.

Where does the name come from?

Minming Zhou (珉名) is my Chinese name, which I used to be very embarrassed about because I was often mistaken for a boy due to the very masculine writing and pronunciation. Another reason I wasn’t proud of my Chinese name was that high school students made fun of how Minming looks like Ling-Ling – a common racist term – so I often introduced myself as Eva rather than Minming. .

However, as I grew older I came to realize that this identity was a gift from the elders in my family, who wanted me to imagine and think freely without limits while remaining strong as a boy, so I want that androgynous spirit to remain. the DNA core of my brand. Now I see Minming Zhou as my alter ego, the villainous version of Eva, where I can be crazier, more confident, and more true to myself.

What are you most proud of in your work on your label?

Doing everything myself, from design to sewing to marketing, makes me feel like a superwoman. My label is still in the works and I plan to incorporate the digital fashion aspect into my work a lot more in the future.

What did you wish you had known when you started?

I would love to know more about marketing and logistics and most importantly how to be financially smart haha.

Who do you think is the most exciting in Australian fashion right now?

What’s most exciting is seeing local creators flourish in their own way. More attention is given to emerging fashion designers. And above all, more ecologically and socially responsible onshore production.

On the other hand, more people appreciate independent brands and consumers seem more adventurous in their clothing choices. The younger generation is so confident in expressing their individuality.

What about the Australian fashion industry that needs to change?

There should be less fast fashion greenwashing and more environmental education to help consumers realize that they don’t need to buy new clothes every week and throw them away after wearing them a few times. And less overconsumption.

Dream Australian collaborators?

My Australian dream collaborator is Sabatucci who has a crazy style and Dion Lee, but I’m really looking forward to doing more cross-industry collaborations with other artists because I’m also into furniture design.

Must-read list for a dinner party?

I like very soft styles with a mix of alternative R&B and techno. My current dinner playlist includes “Jealous” by Khamari, Criminal Manne, “Ring Ring” by Sik-K, “Home” by Dylan Sinclair, but there’s this artist called Hellvis I’m obsessed with right now and which isn’t fluffy at all but fills in the naughtiness of my alter ego.

Who’s in your wardrobe right now?

I recently decluttered piles of clothes when I moved house, now my core wardrobe value is “buy less, buy well”. At the moment, my wardrobe contains good quality basics, such as a Y/Project a men’s wool coat that will last me forever and a Balenciaga leather biker jacket that never goes out of style. For me, it’s not a question of designer names, it’s rather that I enjoyed these pieces and I will still wear them in 20 years.

How can we buy one of your parts?

You can buy my pieces via Pretty Jaide or by my website.

Minming Zhou Shop here.

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