New Menswear Designer
Each month we celebrate an emerging fashion designer and this month we meet Melbourne menswear designer Chris Ran Lin. Named as one of the Best Emerging Designer finalists in the annual Australian Fashion Laureate Awards, we first spotted Lin backstage at Mercedes Benz Fashion week in Sydney earlier this year. Jacqueline Miholos chats with him about how he started his namesake menswear label and where it’s headed.
Tell us about your background and your journey to working in fashion.
I came to Melbourne from China with my family when I was 18 years old and studied a BA and MA in Fashion Design at RMIT University. In 2013, the first Chris Ran Lin collection was showcased to the public in Melbourne, and in 2014 Chris Ran Lin launched as a menswear label.
What was your biggest learning while studying at RMIT?
I think my biggest learning was to challenge myself and push past my comfort zone in design. While I was a student, I never set myself any boundaries. Risk taking and pushing limits are what I like to do and RMIT gave me the opportunity to do that.
What inspired you to start your menswear label Chris Ran Lin?
To be honest, the Chris Ran Lin label didn’t start with a purpose. I wanted to explore some ideas after I graduated from university. The first collection was just a project I wanted to do. However I ended up getting elected as a finalist for an international design award and was able to showcase my collection in China. This led to customers wanting to buy my collection. That was how the Chris Ran Lin label started.
What’s your inspiration for your designs?
Things and people around me inspire me a lot. Personally, I am very interested in architecture and traditional objects. I’m always inspired by things I like, or sometimes it can be a conversation with new people. Thinking about ideas and looking at things from other angles is inspiring, because it makes me think a lot and question myself about why I design in a certain way.
What drew you to create knitted garments?
The texture and possibilities of knit brings excitement to me when I design. I am not a traditional knitwear designer. It only took me 45 minutes to learn how to knit. I don’t have any rules or guidelines that I follow when I create my knitted garments. Giving myself the freedom to be creative is important to me. It’s also important for me listen to my heart and identify what I want to share with my audience through Chris Ran Lin.
What are your values when it comes to ethical fashion?
The Chris Ran Lin label has a lot of emphasis on quality materials. Most of our wool fabric and yarns are Australian merino wool. As an Australian label, we are very proud to use our local product as merino wool is one of the most luxurious materials in fashion. Quality design with quality fabrication, this is how the Chris Ran Lin label stands for ethical fashion.
What are you most proud of in your career so far?
The thing I’m most proud of in my career so far is that I’m still able to follow my heart to create things I like and things I believe in.
What’s next for your label and what are your career goals?
I would like to see more people wear Chris Ran Lin designs. To grow the label will be my next big career goal, and hopefully when people talk about Australia menswear, they know there is a label called Chris Ran Lin.