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Inspired By The Natural World

Inspired by the Natural World

New Apparel Design graduate Yuki Xu represents RISD at the 14th annual Supima Design Competition in NYC.

sketches of five runway looks created by Yuki Xu

Supima Design Competition finalist Yuki Xu 21 AP is creating five all-cotton looks inspired by the natural world and the unrecognized beauty of aging human skin.

As students return to campus and begin to imagine what they’ll create in the coming months, one recent graduate is hard at work in the Apparel Design studios at 189 Canal Street. Class of 2021 alumna Yuki Xu 21 AP is putting the finishing touches on the all-cotton collection she’ll show on September 9 as part of the 2021 Supima Design Competition.

inspiring patterns from the natural world

rust-colored garment in progress
Rose fungus and other textured elements of the natural world inspired this twill garment in progress.

One of six finalists from art and design schools across the US, Xu is building a collection called Growth inspired by the perfect imperfections of the natural world and the beauty of aging. “We are a part of nature,” she says, “and aging is how we connect with the earth. As living beings, we will return to the earth at the end of the biological cycle like all other lives.”

“As living beings, we will return to the earth at the end of the biological cycle like all other lives.”

Competition finalist Yuki Xu 21 AP

Mentored by longtime RISD faculty member Maha Barsom, Xu is manipulating the denim, twill, velveteen, shirting and jersey supplied by Supima using a digital laser cutter and other state-of-the-art tools to create textured looks that challenge negative images of aging and wrinkles. The collection is an offshoot of her senior thesis work, which also attempted to redefine through apparel what is considered beautiful. 

laser-cut details on a skirt

a checkerboard of material manipulations inspired by nature
Xu is using a digital laser cutter and other state-of-the-art tools to translate her inspirations into stunning looks for the runway.

Unlike last year, the competition will be a live event scheduled to coincide with New York Fashion Week in Manhattan. Each designer will show five looks using different cottons supplied by Supima, the nonprofit organization that promotes the use of American-grown Pima cotton. All of the contestants benefit from feedback from professional designers involved in the competition, and the winner will walk away with $10,000 and the opportunity to show their work again at Paris Fashion Week later this season. 

“We are so proud of this year’s finalists,” says Supima VP of Marketing & Promotions Buxton Midyette. “After last year’s shift to a completely virtual format, we are thrilled that we will be showing live once again.”
 

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