The Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival  is an annual celebration of fashion, arts and ideas. It’s one of Australia’s largest fashion events and features world-class runway shows from Australia’s established and emerging designers.

Study Melbourne Ambassador Ziggy Hao sat down with designer Chris Ran Lin following the runway show ‘Studio Edit 2’, presented by Global Victoria.

Ziggy Hao: How do you generate your ideas?

Chris Ran Lin: Ideas come from everywhere, basically. I love looking at people and hearing their stories. My designs always have a huge influence from architecture. You can see something quite structured and sculptured in my design and my textures as well. I think hearing people’s story and interpreting it into my own ideas is one thing to keep generating ideas for myself each season.

Z: What has helped you transition from student to a professional designer?

C: When you are at uni, you can really do whatever you want and create whatever you think is appropriate for your concept or your study. But when you graduate and start having your own label and running a brand, you have to consider that you’re doing business. So in the transition from a student to a designer – even though you call yourself a businessman at the same time – you have to really stay focused on what you want to do for your designs and on what you're trying to tell people about your brand.  

I'm a designer doing menswear and now I’m starting to move into womenswear. I always love to share things I think are beautiful. So I want people who love my work to be receiving the same message that I’m sharing good things with people. You always have to have your own goals and your own voice when you’re doing design.

Z: Why did you choose to study in Melbourne and base your label here?

C: I came to Melbourne with my family. I immigrated here sixteen years ago from Guangdong China. I studied here and graduated from RMIT with my bachelor’s degree. Two years later I went back to do a Master’s.

Melbourne gives me a lot. I’ve met good people and good teachers who guide me and give me advice. I think people here are really nice and friendly. I really enjoy it – not just for my career, also for my everyday life.

When people help people, you feel that connection, you don’t feel cold at all. People are easygoing and everyone is quite relaxed. That’s what I love about Melbourne. Also, I think the slow lifestyle helps me think about who I am and what I’m doing. It’s not moving too fast but it’s still running smoothly.

Z: What advice would you give international students who want to pursue a career in fashion?

You must enjoy what you’re doing first. And stay focused on who you are and what you want to do.

Even though, as a student, you are still finding out what you like, what you're good at and what you will be.

C: I graduated from RMIT, which has a different way for students to learn and pick their interests. I taught tailoring last year at RMIT. I always told my students ‘I’ve taught you what I know and it's better for you to absorb it and then turn it into what you know.’ I just pass on my knowledge to them – and if they’re really learning they can turn it into their own method, rather than doing it my way.

For students who want to come here to study, I think they need to know what they love and what they really want. And enjoy it rather than just trying to finish the assignments every semester. That won't keep you going.

Find out more about Chris and his work