THANK YOU V MAGAZINE for the article on our VFILES LAB001 member, Joshua Mudgget, his project: CHIMERA
Last fall, the VFILES Foundation CEO Julie Anne Quay announced new measures to highlight budding creatives. Part of this new push to create more opportunities for the young creative community includes a new initiative called VFILES Lab. The program gives seven finalists access to education and mentorship through an intensive 10-week program. This year’s show was held digitally on April 9th and the finalists were selected from over 700 submissions. Among the selected was Joshua Mudgett who presented his custom AI fashion company, Chimera. For this project, Mudgett collaborated with singer-songwriter Abby Jasmine to bring the concept to life. Jasmine is known for her hit single Relax and recently came out with Who Cares? (Deluxe). Bursting with color and texture, Jasmine designs for this VFILES LAB001 show included strappy neon bralettes, utilitarian hoodie vests, and orange-lined leather pants. In one design, her model (who can be best described as a cross between a human and purple cyborg) strutted down the pastel pink sky runway in an orange-black tracksuit with green side panels. This is the singer’s first foray into the fashion world, but if this show is any indication, it’s only the beginning.
Read our conversation with VFILES Lab recipient Joshua Mudgett and his collaborator Abby Jasmine here:
V MAGAZINE: Hi Abby! Congrats on your work with VFILES Lab – What does it feel like to be a part of the show, especially as a native New Yorker?
ABBY JASMINE: For me, this is such a full-circle moment! VFILES is such a big part of the culture and also a big part of my own personal memories as a New Yorker. I remember being a teenager and going to see Lil Yachty perform there back in 2016, along with trips from Staten Island just to go hang out across the street from the store and smoke – then being able to attend the fashion show in 2019 front row. I feel like my subconscious manifested this moment for me.
V: Joshua, what about you?
JOSHUA MUDGETT: Being part of the VFILES Lab is really great. VFILES is so iconic and to be with them at the precipice of this new chapter is an honor.
V: Yeah it’s so exciting. Joshua, I understand the VFILES Lab Show involves an intensive 10 weeks incubation program. Can you bring us through those 10 weeks? What did you do and what was that experience like?
JM: It was like having a fire under me to push myself and my work, with some of the most plugged-in and intelligent people in the game. During the 10 weeks, VFILES gives us mentorship, guest speakers, and opens up their fabulous Rolodex. I spent the time developing Chimera as a business, registering patents, building a business plan, and finally creating the show for the finale.
V: What did you set out to do with this collection?
AJ: I wanted to create something that was sexy, cute, but also comfortable. I wanted something that I myself would wear. Something that can be worn for casual occasions yet can also be dressed up if needed.
V: How was it working with Joshua Mudgett? What was the process of designing an AI collection?
AJ: Josh made everything super easy and was so great to work with. All I had to do was tell the AI what type of clothing I was looking to make, color schemes, things I liked, etc. and it did all the work, so I can’t take too much credit.
V: Joshua, what was it like working with Abby? Were you a fan of her work prior to this project?
JM: This was my first introduction to Abby Jasmine, which I’m actually really grateful for because I got to learn about her and her personal brand alongside Chimera. She gave us unique inputs that I honestly didn’t expect, and was one of the first to test the waters for wearable outputs from Chimera. I’ve definitely become a fan, she’s such a delight to work with.
V: What is Chimera?
JM: Chimera is a first-of-its-kind VAE-GAN that has been trained to design clothing for brands and individuals, outputting an edited 3D model and the 2D flat patterns to sew the garment. It’s been designed to work similar to a real designer, taking inputs such as mood board images and text inputs from the user describing their style.
V: Abby, did you have a particular client or consumer in mind when designing?
AJ: People like me, who wanna be cozy and fly at the same time. With this project, I kind of approached it almost like I would making a song. I wouldn’t write a song I wouldn’t listen to myself, just like I wouldn’t help design clothes I wouldn’t wear. I can confidently say I would wear every single piece from this line.
V: In the past, Abby graced us with your music, specifically your album, Who Cares? and corresponding visuals, but I’m wondering how does fashion let you express another creative side of yourself?
AJ: Fashion lets me show my variety of moods. There are some days I feel bummy, some days I feel like the baddest b*tch in the world, some days when I feel in between, and there’s an outfit for each of those situations.
V: Finally, what role do you guys think AI will play in fashion in the future?
AJ: I can see AI’s working alongside designers, almost like a personal assistant.
JM: I think AI is the natural progression for the design industry as a whole, not just fashion. For fashion, in particular, it’s an industry that has been pretty much stuck in the same technological rut since the industrial era. People can put LED’s or NFC chips in dresses and call it fashion-tech, but in my opinion, the next great thing in fashion will be something that can redesign our current design methods. AI alone can double the speed of design as well as fix problems like overproduction, design accessibility, manufacturing accountability. It will definitely play a huge role in the future of fashion, so long as people can understand it’s not iRobot and won’t take their job.
The inaugural VFILES Lab class also includes Bolor Amgalan and Boris Brésil, Cakes Da Killa, Jaylin Kim and Nikolai Artemev, Julian Soto, Rashaad Strong, and Saeedah Haque.