NFTs and virtual social spaces are transforming digital fashion, but the ones driving the changes are the designers. In our Designer Spotlight series, we interview the aspiring designers to share their backgrounds as well as their perspectives on metaverse wearables.
Kevin Tung, who grew up in New York and is now based in Florida, is a young designer full of passion and inspiration. His digital fashion career only started a few months ago, but with his strong background in physical fashion and his inspirations from art and culture, he has created unique collections, most notably the Year of the Water Tiger dress. In this interview, Kevin shares his story and insights on digital fashion.
M&W: Could you tell us about your background in fashion?
Kevin: I've been interested in fashion since high school—I took pre-collegiate classes at FIT and also did a fashion-related internship during my senior year of high school. I felt pretty confident about studying fashion in college and went to FIT. In college, I've participated in Fusion Fashion Show—a joint fashion design competition between FIT and Parsons—and was selected as one of the top 15 designers, and I also studied abroad in Italy. After college, I've worked in various brands like Milly, Republic Clothing, and I've joined White House Black Market as a sportswear designer in 2021.
M&W: How did you start your work in digital fashion?
Kevin: When I saw how people were willing to buy RTFKT Studios' sneakers inspired by Tesla's Cybertruck even though you cannot physically wear them, it really changed my perspective on what fashion is and what its future would look like. I've also been playing lots of 3D games in my free time, so digital fashion actually felt like a perfect combination of my personal interests. Since late 2021, I started teaching myself how to use 3D design software like Clo3D and Blender, and that's how I started designing digital clothes.
M&W: Would you recommend exploring digital fashion to other fashion designers?
Kevin: Of course. I think digital fashion has several merits for physical fashion designers. For a young designer to launch their own brand, the process is very capital intensive. I've personally launched my own menswear brand, and I know how expensive it is just to create a sample in NYC. Digital fashion, on the other hand, is so much more accessible, and designers can just focus on creating unique designs. And there's so much to play with, like rendering your designs in zero-gravity or with lighting conditions impossible in real life!
M&W: What do you try to express in your digital fashion work?
Kevin: My designs always reference a piece of art history; whether it be a painting, photo, or film. I want to retell classic stories with new perspectives. I also love playing with opposites and impossibilities—marble puffer jackets, evening silk dresses contrasted with polished gold, and ceramic space suits with LED lights. It's a balancing act, like yin and yang. Apart from what I seek to convey in my designs, a quote that I try to live by is one by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: "A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."
Kevin is actively working with other designers in multiple projects, and he also has plans for launching a full NFT fashion collection comprised of various fashion items sometime this year. You can learn more about Kevin Tung's work below: