The mission of Eko-Lab is to create change in how clothing is made as well as how clothing is perceived. Creating clothing with a balanced sensuality, the stable of designers that make up Eko-Lab, produce their collections with local production facilities and local artisans, while taking time to ensure that their fabric choices do no harm to the environment or to the workers that produce their clothes.
With a belief in the importance of community, design and sustainability in every day life, Eko-Lab’s believes that we all have the ability to impact the world through our purchases. Making fabulous clothes from sustainable materials in a humanitarian environment, is their norm. The founding members of Melissa Kirgan and Xing-Zhen Chung-Hilyard the two also work in along side Ekovaruhuset; the organic fair-made fashion boutique in New York . Changing the sustainable fashion scene in New York, they work with a unique collaboration of designers and friends. With the imminent launch of their fair-made hand craft facility, they produce locally with crochet, low-impact natural dying, screen printing and teach these techniques to the local community.
Founding member of Eko-Lab, Xing-Zhen Chung-Hilyard incorporates her unique vision of the world into her work; emotion, experience, labour and love. Her ability to see the complexities of life is interwoven into her paintings and her clothing. Beginning her artistic journey in Taiwan, she continuing in New York, where she learned the true beauty of creating ‘slow fashion’, as well as the kinsmanship that comes from collaboration with like minded artisans. Sharing her knowledge of craft through crochet lessons as well as screen printing classes within her design community through the Ekovaruhuset in New York’s lower East Side.
Melissa Kirgan, the other half of Eko-Lab, loves the process of making real her concepts and ideas into form and function. Living in New York, and feeding her own creative expression with that of others, Kirgan creates with a conscious that respects the path each garment she produces takes, only using materials that are chemical-free and production methodology that respects the worker as well as the wearer of the garment. Beginning her career as a leather craft apprentice in Philadelphia, her path has led her to study in New York with the Fashion Institute of Technology, as well as in Florence, Italy. She has also worked with a wide range of companies, large and small, and her skill lies in her ability to create through a well developed combination of draping and pattern making, to reflect and shape the clothing to a fine tuned fit.
For Fall 2010, both Kirgan and Chung-Hilyard collaborated with award winning artist Jennifer Wen Ma, a core team member of the creative team that produced the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. Ma works in multiple mediums, including installation, video, drawing, fashion, performance and public works. Her work has represented in some of the most important museums in the world. For this collaboration, Ma spiraled ink onto fabric to create beautiful, bleeding canvases that were then interpreted into creations.