Fashion, body and architecture – three different types of expression that seem to embrace opposing ideals yet overlap in nature. Formative is a line created by Ali Chen, Elaine Kwong and Anita Wong, three architecture students at the University of Southern California, to explore the art of human body and movement that both fashion and architecture are derived from and to blend together their contradicting characteristics. Their collection is full of irony: free and controlled, basic and original, uninhibited and restricted. On a late Wednesday evening, in a perfect space in downtown that represents and encompasses the very essence of their line, we sat down to discuss the past, present and future of Formative.

How did you guys decide to start this line together?

The way that Formative started was just like everything else: through a simple spark of an idea. We saw an opportunity to take our designs into something new and different.

What are some of your inspirations?

Some of the things that inspire us to produce our lines are the things we see in everyday lives. Because creativity is one of those things that come to you when you least expect, we are constantly on the move looking for the very thing that will move us towards our next line. For instance in our first collection, we went with the things that we knew and inspired us best – architecture – and took the relationship between the two and merged it in order to form our first collection. Then in our most recent collection, we took the line in the opposite direction and experimented with the silhouette of the human body. We also post all our inspirations on our blog so our fans can constantly see our process.

Tell us more about your design process. Do you individually come up with designs, or brainstorm all together?

Formative is a collective design effort from all three designers, and because we all practice architecture, the way we process is very similar. But at the same time we are each our own individuals, and we are always keeping each other in check with our designs.

What were some of the biggest drawbacks you faced since you started Formative?

One of the biggest drawbacks Formative has faced is the very thing that makes us strong. Architecture, although it defines us, also draws us back purely by its practice. In architecture, our common mediums are building materials while in fashion the common medium is fabric. So doing Formative really took us out of our comfort zone and challenged us to communicate in a different way.

Who do you think would be a perfect “Formative” girl?

The “Formative girl” is what we envision as a woman between the age of 18 and 30 who is bold, undaunted and loves to be noticed without too many flashy prints and colors. Her style is always simple, elegant and unique.

Where do you see yourselves 10 years from now?

When we started Formative, we began with purely an idea and never imagined in our wildest dreams that in only two seasons it would take us this far. That being said, we can’t say where we will be in five or 10 years, but we do hope that whatever point we reach, we will keep our design intentions pure.

Do you have any advice for the design students hoping to create their own line in the future?

To all future fashion designers, we advise you to truly keep the pursuit of design. Design, no matter the medium is a way that we as designers effectively communicate and inspire. So we encourage you to ignore those who do not see the way you do and keep your intentions.

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