Zhi Chen describes herself on the i-am-chen website» as a technician rather than a fashion designer, explaining how she studies the workings of machines on the factory floor to exploit their full capabilities in her engineered knitwear. The results are vibrant asymmetrical pieces that play with volume and colour, that often involve computer programming to control the machines and create the designs.
The pieces shown below are examples of garments that have made it to retail on the Brown’s website. Both the asymmetrical skirt and the green sweater appear to use a technique where multiple layers are used to create texture. In the case of the skirt, it seems as though the backing yarns or backing layer are pulled shorter than the front layer to create a ribbed texture. In the case of the green sweater, the backing layer appears to be pulled narrower to create controlled wrinkles on the front of the garment.
Throughout the designs colour blocking is used, often with a dominant colour, secondary colours in medium-size bands, and then finally splashes of accent colours in small trim details and tipping. Ribbing and ribbed texture is also used to highlight how Chen has played with asymmetry and volume in the pieces. For example, on both the pink sweater and the red skirt, the ribbed texture is a linear detail that helps to communicate where the garment is following the line of the body, and where it has been diverted into a different design line or detail.
In the case of the red skirt, the thicker texture of the knit helps to support the desired silhouette at the side because of the added thickness. You can imagine that the knit structure has a much bouncier, heavier handle in forming the design than the same basic pattern would encourage in a woven fabric.