Enjoy some visual inspiration from some incredible creators
In this article, we explore a selection of some magical creators of wearable art, whether they are in the realms of cosplay, jewellery, historical costume or other forms. Add a pinch of inspiration to your day; enjoy these visual delights as they offer some ideas for a new hobby or additions for the wardrobe! Or perhaps, you might just find yourself following these talents to spruce up the feed! The featured creators also provide some insights into what creativity means to them and in some cases, how it connects them to their respective cultures.
Julia Marie Chew of Xiaolin Design is a US-based multifaceted creator. Take flight through Julia’s ethereal designs, which display a mastery of feathers and unique forms. With golden goddesses boasting magnificent plumage, raven queens foretelling fates and fire birds burning bright, Xiaolin Design transforms the female form into beings of mythical proportions. Such designs take hold of imaginations and sets them free.
“Creating intricate and detailed gowns is incredibly powerful to me. I’m able to become any character I dream up and escape the real world for a moment. I carefully paint each golden feather and layer them in rows like armour. The fabric base underneath holds the structure and shape of the design. I believe my designs can transform ordinary people into extraordinary characters that reflect strength and courage. I draw inspiration from nature and fairytales to bring my designs to life using natural materials such as shed peacock feathers and beetle wings. I’ve created my own cabinet of curiosities that can be worn and admired by all.” – Julia
Dr. Christine is a historical costumer, board certified doctor, gamer, mother and wife. Her creations have inspired so many to begin their journey into wearable art making and her talents seem to have no limits. She has been featured in Vogue, NYTimes and LATimes. She is also an innovative creator of digital embroidery and is currently a Baby Lock Ambassador.
“Costumes to me are a form of wearable art, and self expression – and just getting to make the world more beautiful. I just remember as a small child loving the prettiest, ruffliest, most over the top dresses I could find. I loved things FOR the dresses – for example I just remember loving Ariel’s pink dress above all things, and loving the Little Mermaid for having such a beautiful dress, and less for the movie itself! Initially, my creativity flowed as drawings of dresses – but as I grew up, I realized it wasn’t enough for me to draw beautiful things – I wanted to make and wear them – feel them and see how they were made from the inside out. So from there, I wanted to make every beautiful dress and coat and accessory on the planet, and I have slowly been working my way through all of them. They are my way of capturing the beauty in the planet, and taking part in them.” – Christine
UK and HK-based Little Egg Crafts specialise in all things crochet and amigurumi and is a brand owned by two besties of Mixed East Asian & Southeast Asian HongKongers descent. Their work is delightful, bold and make thoughtful gifts. Strawberry scrunchies, stunning cardigans and even knitted dim sum goodies, there is something for everyone.
“Individuality and a custom fit are points we prize ourselves on! As many people will know, sometimes shopping in a store can be tricky as sizing seems to differ everywhere you go and things don’t always fit and flatter even if the sizing is supposed to fit like a glove. And sometimes, you just can’t quite find what you like.
Being able to use our skills in crocheting to design and hand make accessories such as our scrunchies for our Little Egg Crafts shop, as well as personal projects for ourselves has been a really rewarding experience!
The two of us have quite different body types so being able to make matching cardigans that would fit and flatter both of us was so gratifying as well!” – Little Egg Crafts
Vivien’s dramatic creations are full of storytelling, vivid palettes and spectacular details. Her reels and TikTok videos are full of fun, on occasion, a brilliant crossover (Lucrezia Borgia Loki!) and impressive lip syncing! She is a joy to follow and her feed is always full of something new and exciting.
“I am primarily known as a historical costumer and cosplayer, but I also love making my own daily wardrobe and some special occasion pieces. I adore fashion design because it is a way to say something visually without saying something out loud. My garments are unabashedly feminine, because being feminine does not mean weak or frivolous. Depending on my mood, my creations can convey fun, elegance, or power. Last year I created this ensemble for the Her Universe Fashion Show contest, and won as the Audience’s Choice winner. This jumpsuit, cape, belt, spiked crown, and clutch purse had nods to the Armorer, a female character that is a leader of her people in the show The Mandalorian. Putting on all the pieces made me feel both beautiful and strong.” – Vivien
Claire Zhang is passionate about historical reconstruction, costume design, and “making pretty and old things in general”. Her videos show glimpses of the extreme precision and care she uses when making her stunning garments. She is also a passionate advocate for respectful representation and cultural dialogue in the costuming world. Claire is also generous with showcasing her methods, such as through YouTube tutorials.
“Recreating historical clothing is the one thing that combines my two passions: fashion history and costume making. The process of historical reconstruction is a fascinating journey: it always begins with studying the silhouette of a specific period by looking at fashion plates, old photos and extant garments, research period appropriate construction techniques through reading both primary and secondary sources. Then comes fabric swatching, pattern-making, and the actual construction of the garment, all of which involve many trials, accidents and exciting discoveries. Clothing has always played an intimate role in human lives throughout history. So for me, recreating and wearing historical garments is my way of understanding and connecting with the past.” – Claire
Jia Qi Chen is a stylist and fashion designer with a deep appreciation for her heritage and dialogue between cultures. She was born in China and raised in the United States, and as a result she has the ability to draw from different sources. Navigating these experiences instils within her a passion for building bridges through her work.
Jia Qi Chen, born in China and raised in the United States, has been immersed in two different cultures. She takes pride in her ethnic identity. Consistently drawing from her culture, she utilizes her creativity to bring cultural confidence into the Chinese ethnic group and to illustrate the beauty of her culture to the world. From traditional artistry to the sophistication of city life, she transforms traditional art into modern fashion. She makes it her social responsibility to bridge the East and the West, one design at a time. Amidst the rising hate crimes toward Asians, fashion can be a great way to showcase the beauty of different cultures.
Erika is a chameleon of sorts, transforming herself into diverse characters from a variety of worlds. Able to bring to her designs all manner wonderful personal touches, Erika’s feed is full of a stunning array of colours and unique takes on characters (including Beauty and the Beast’s Belle Kitsuke!).
“For me costuming is about making something impossible real for just a moment. We get to take these childhood fantasies that we had, things that were only possible through books and movies and make believe, and make them real in some small way. These dreams that I had as a child of being a fairy princess or a witch or a dragon rider, they are all impossible and yet made possible momentarily. In making these fantastical costumes and collaborating with talented cosplayers and photographers, we can make those distant worlds feel just a little bit closer and that magic just a little more attainable. In a world that lacks so much magic, costuming and the community it provides allows us to make our own magic.” – Erika
Cheon-Shik Yang uses his skills to create stunning hanbok. Rebelling against fast fashion, Cheon-Shik connects with his culture through his creativity. His ingenious approach of mixing and matching silhouettes with traditional origins and Western fabrics takes viewers on an exciting journey of visual exploration. Cheon-Shik’s feed is rich with beauty, whilst embodying a touching tribute to his culture.
“Making and Wearing Hanbok (Traditional Korean Clothing) daily, provides a way for me to not only explore my own culture and histories at a deeper level; but to lead by example that as POC, our cultures and traditions are something we should have pride in, and are something to preserve and not be afraid to express ourselves with. By mixing Traditional Patterns and Silhouettes with Western Fabrics, I get to make Hanbok that honors and respects its origins while providing a unique take on the evolution of Korean Traditional Wear. As a Transracial Korean Adoptee, connecting to Korean Culture has been a lifelong journey, so to be able to fulfill myself creatively while simultaneously building a fully Hanbok wardrobe and eliminating fast fashion has been a blessing to many aspects of my life.” – Cheon-Shik Yang
It Is Known Chainmaille is a brand that entices and amazes the viewer with its delicate and detailed designs. Recently, one of the brand’s designs was featured on Project Runway Bravo in collaboration with Anna Y. Zhou of Oraz NY. Hand-woven in the ancient art of chainmaille using over 8,000 individual rings, the final piece included 2 spaulders, a belt, and a “spine” custom-fit to pioneering trans model Mimi Tao. Check out its feature on Project Runway here. It Is Known Chainmaille brings out the beauty of chainmaille and reinvents it for the modern warrior.
“My brand, It Is Known Chainmaille, has always been one part business and one part ongoing art project. When I started making chainmaille between 6 and 7 years ago, I saw an opportunity to merge two great passions of mine: art direction for high-concept, editorial photography and showcasing the under-appreciated beauty of the ancient art of chainmaille. All It Is Known designs are hand-crafted by me or with my apprentice, Sabrina Cheng, and are hand-woven from thousands of individual rings and scales. A great deal of care goes into creating each piece so that the finished design is a joy to wear that will last for years. Clothing has the power to shape and transform not only the way others see us, but the way we see ourselves. To me, wearable art is about empowering the wearer to be the main character of their own life story.” – It Is Known
Lumecluster was created to inspire our inner hero, armor those who fight the good fight, and promise to keep building bridges together. The visionary behind the brand, Melissa Ng crafts intricate and breathtaking pieces such as her Descendants of the Dragon Armor Ring, which not only represents one’s inner strength but also celebrates her heritage.
“Our ultimate objective in learning about anything is to try to create and develop a more just society.” – Yuri Kochiyama, Japanese American civil rights activist
“A sometimes overlooked detail about Lumecluster is that it is a combination of the words, “Lume,” which is a special type of glow pigment (often found in watches) and “cluster.”
And I combined these words together when I officially created Lumecluster in 2013 with a desire to create an “illuminated cluster” of many people, ideas, and identities who fight for a more equitable and inclusive world. While my artform has greatly shifted and allowed me the privilege of traveling and meeting many more amazing people, my belief in this has only deepened.
The ring is for anyone who has ever felt othered, ostracized, and cut down, but still keeps finding the reasons to do the work of bringing people together and fighting the good fight.
Descendants of the Dragon are not here to be slain. So, never let anyone take your claws.” – Lumecluster