Twenty-three-year-old designer Jessica Chang grew up in Hong Kong, but moved to New York to study at Parsons where she graduated with a BFA in fashion design. Her passion for fashion first blossomed when her mother who would take her on shopping sprees from a young age. “I was very aware of clothing as a part of my life since as long as I can remember,” Chang explained. “It was how we liked to spend time together. I developed a sense of preference, liking or not liking things was such as styles, colour, silhouettes, fabric and so on. That was very integral to my early life.”

The first garment Chang ever made was a paper dress for a competition where the theme was to take a book and give it new life. “I used an old sewing machine that was around the house to do it,” she said. “No one taught me how to sew, I read the manual.”

Less than a year old, Jessica Chang Studio pieces are made-to-order, but Chang wants to expand to a small quantity production level. Today, the young designer has increased productivity and outsources jobs. Chang still designs, drapes, pattern makes and sews the samples herself. “I am talking to a few small online retail sites that want some custom orders with my brand,” she added. “I am also working on my online store.” Chang would love to have her own vertical store, so she can create a narrative for her customers to experience first-hand. Social media has had a huge impact on her brand. “That’s where stylists, models, collaborators find me.”

Her biggest inspiration for her designs is mother nature, the creative process often starts with paint and a canvas to see what colours she chooses and what curves and forms she paints. “Or draping [fabric] mindlessly and seeing what happens. Recording that and picking what I liked from that experience and going further with that.” Inspiration can strike at any moment; everyday life inspires Chang too such as discovering an exotic plant or an interesting sidewalk.

Showcasing her designs at Vancouver Fashion Week in March, a highlight was showing her new pieces that are more accessible and ready-to-wear. “I’m very excited because they’re available to be made if someone requests it. Whereas my older pieces are hand-dyed and very couture in terms of construction,” Chang said. “They are more of a stand-alone, one of a kind piece, which I would also say is another highlight of my show. The line up almost goes from ready-to-wear to couture which is very exciting to see.”