2013.021.015 Oral History with Yeohlee Teng
Yeohlee Teng was born in Malaysia and studied fashion at Parsons School of Design. She start her own brand just because she want to get more control over her work. She grow up with the idea of zero waste, and design clothes that one-size-fits-all. And she also think math is the foundation of fashion design business.


YEOHLEE TENG: I was born in George Town, Penang, Malaysia. And I went to school at Parsons School of Design in New York City.

YEOHLEE TENG: The idea of zero waste was something that I grew up with because, to me, the most successful and most universal designers are all one-size-fits-all. It's zero waste. It's, you know, unisex. A child can wear it. You can wear it in many different ways. It travels well. You can wear it to the beach, which most people do, but you can also wear it to the boardroom--which Valerie Steele does.

YEOHLEE TENG: And math is really the foundation of design, and the pieces you selected for the show reflect that. The Cube from Fall 2008 is really--it's a real structure. It's a zero waste garment. It consists of one square and four rectangles. And the other pieces from Fall 2012 were inspired by the Venn diagram. One in a literal manner, and the other one has the same-size circles stitched into a garment. And that piece was part of a dance performance by Jodi Melnick, choreographed by Trisha Brown.

YEOHLEE TENG: The tension that was created between her movement and her body and the spaces captured by the garment is just very interesting to me.

YEOHLEE TENG: Well, if you look at Milan and Paris, you'll see that there are fewer and fewer new talent coming out. And, for us here, every student who goes to Parsons wants to start their own business, and they will be able to by walking around these square blocks and getting everything done.

YEOHLEE TENG: Like, you can-- I'm a process designer like you are, you know, so in the process, you know things happen that make designs more interesting and exciting than when you first thought about it. But without the other hands in between, it's just one line. And you know, you can go to the factory and the guy can say to you, "Look, you know, it's going to cost less if I skip these three steps," and you said, "Oh yeah, go ahead!" And the three steps was something different but better.

YEOHLEE TENG: People are more informed about design and care more about, you know--I mean, I think fashion has become an art form, and it's more accessible. And because of the speed of information and the way that ideas travel, anybody can be a designer and everybody is a designer.

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