Wei Lin believes experimentation is the key to creating cutting edge fashion. That’s why she founded the fashion brand PH5 (@ph5official), which creates quirky, futuristic knitwear. Along with creative director Zoe Champion (@zoechampionknitwear), Wei creates colorful, sculptural pieces that put a creative spin on classic knitted garments.
Wei runs her company more like a science lab than a traditional fashion brand, putting a strong emphasis on experimentation. “PH5 is based on the pH scale. It’s a bit off-center, weird, and whimsical,” she explains. “We named ourselves after a chemistry value because we want to be very experimental with our designs and with the brand.”
Wei works with Zoe to turn her fashion dreams into reality. Zoe has an unconventional background that, she believes, allows her to view knitwear in a new way. “I trained as a ceramicist for many years and I really loved building something, taking materials with my hands, and constructing and molding crazy shapes and silhouettes,” she says. “That’s how I moved from sculpting pieces into sculpting knitwear.”
When she designs a piece, Zoe starts by knitting or crocheting parts of it herself, before turning it into a digital design that can be made by a machine. “I love the feeling of creating something with each stitch, so I often start with my hands, crocheting and knitting,” she explains. “It’s interesting to marry the two and create something that is digitized but has a feeling that someone created something from scratch.”
For Zoe and Wei, it’s important for PH5’s designs to be both fashionable and functional. “In the end, we’re making clothing to be on bodies,” Zoe says, explaining how she designed PH5’s signature dress to truly come alive only when worn. “It’s really a flat piece of clothing and then through the wearing of it sort of creates these interesting shapes and interesting lines, and accentuates and brings the movement of someone’s body into the piece visually.”
“I think our product really speaks for that balance that we’re trying to achieve,” Wei concurs. “We want it to be somewhat affordable but we want it to be very special.”
Playfulness and whimsy are at the heart of PH5’s ethos, and Zoe encourages aspiring fashion designers to prioritize having fun and expressing their creativity when designing clothing. “I think what young people can do if they’re trying to find their design ability and style is to really just play,” she concludes. “Trying something new, if it brings you joy, will bring someone else joy, so go for it.”
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