Story Si: They Are My Fathers

THE JOURNEY OF A GAY COUPLE'S SURROGACY PROCESS AND EXPLORATION OF MODERN FATHERHOOD.

photographer: Kanak Guo

creative designer: Kanak Guo, GR Feng

model: Daniel Del camp, Nicole A.lucia

stylist: Kanak vision, Monica Wu, Tomoaki Sato

editor: Terrence Zhou

date: Jun 28, 2019

PRIDE MONTH FEATURED INTERVIEW SERIES

Story Si is a Chinese fashion designer from Jinan, China. He came to the US at the age of 16 and recently graduated from Parsons School of Design, Fashion BFA Program. We chatted with Story about his design process for his thesis “They Are My Fathers”, a fashion collection based on his entire journey of the surrogacy process and the intricate relationship between his path to fatherhood and his thesis collection. His collection is also featured on Desnudo UK June Issue.

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Can you tell us some of the Inspiration for your thesis collection?

 

At the very beginning of the research, I wanted to know more about the history of gay people. So I did some research and found out that during WWII, Nazi marked gay people with pink triangles in the concentration camp. That is where it all started. I machine knitted the triangle as part of the research development. I have applied drop stitch in an experimental way to knit the triangular shape in different tensions, various colors, and multiple materials like lace. I also did some research on the contemporary gay community. For example, I have found that showing more body parts in a sexual way seems to become a new symbol. 

Then I moved on from history to personal exploration, especially my relationship with my boyfriend. For example, this picture was taken when I was cuddling with my boyfriend. I am a very cuddly person, and every time when I return home, I would ask my boyfriend to give me a hug. So most of the silhouettes all started from intimate poses like hugging, and from the cuddling silhouette, I started draping and experimenting with the shapes in fabrics. Then I also looked into the pregnancy process. Once in a while, we received photos from the hospital in Mexico so that we didn’t have to fly all the way to Mexico... some of these photos show the diameter of my baby’s head, and how it kept growing bigger. I was very touched and emotional the first time I saw my baby in this photo.  For us, we can’t get pregnant, and the time we feel the most intimate with our baby is when we are holding him in our arms. That is why again, I would like to carry the hugging part to my toile and throughout my research. 

FOR US, WE CAN'T GET PREGNANT, AND THE TIME WE FEEL THE MOST INTIMATE WITH OUR BABY IS is WHEN WE ARE HOLDING HIM IN OUR ARMS.

Can you talk about your choice of materials?

I have a lot of sweaters and maybe that was part of the reason why I have an obsession with knitwear. Also, the older generation would always knit something for their babies or kids in their families. I feel knitwear goes hand in hand with family-hood.

 

What are some design elements in the thesis collection that you want to mention??

Because the stories about our relationship and the baby still remain unknown to most of our families, I personally find the elements of hiding our own identities very intriguing. So I choose the tartan pattern to represent the hiding part of our identities. Other than that, the way that I usually create is draping first. And when I observe the way how clothing would react when people are hugging, gathers and wrinkles are formed immediately because of the movement so I put lots of gathered darts to reinforce the effect of the silhouette. Draping for me is an eye-opening experience for creation instead of drawing or sketching. We also bought a lot of baby products later on, which have inspired me a lot. so I used them in my draping and research too.

...MY GARMENTS ALWAYS SPEAKS FOR ITSELF AND I WOULD LIKE MY DESIGN TO BE SELF-EVIDENT.

The collection feels very personal, but how would you envision your collection to make an impact in the world?

 

My collection speaks to the LGBTQ community and kids raised by LGBTQ parents. My professor always tells me that my clothing always speaks for itself and I would like my design to be self-evident. 

 

Have you ever discussed with your boyfriend on how to educate your baby about the LGBTQ community at an early stage?

 

Yes, I proposed to my boyfriend to bring our baby to the Pride Parade this month in NYC, but he said it would be very crowded and noisy on the street. It might be a great idea to bring our baby to events like this when he grows older. 

I JUST FEEL SO UNSURE AS A GAY PARENT AND AS A MINORITY...
I HOPE MY BABY IS STRAIGHT

The collection feels very personal, but how would you envision your collection to make an impact in the world?

 

My collection speaks to the LGBTQ community and kids raised by LGBTQ parents. My professor always tells me that my clothing always speaks for itself and I would like my design to be self-evident. 

 

Have you ever discussed with your boyfriend on how to educate your baby about the LGBTQ community at an early stage?

 

Yes, I proposed to my boyfriend to bring our baby to the Pride Parade this month in NYC, but he said it would be very crowded and noisy on the street. It might be a great idea to bring our baby to events like this when he grows older. 

You’re only 23, and a fresh Parsons grad. Do you feel any concern with your baby or just the future in general?

When I was looking at the hospital report, I kind of put myself in my baby’s shoes. I always wonder if we are doing the right thing. What would I feel if I were raised by gay parents? There are always more heterosexual parents than homosexual parents; I personally don’t know any gay parents. I just feel so unsure as a gay parent as well as a minority. I am just worried that my baby would get bullied in school in the future if his classmates find out he is raised by gay parents. I hope we can afford to put our baby in a diverse school where our identities and my baby’s identity could be accepted. 

I have a friend who is a single father. He never takes his baby to any parties where there are moms and dads because he does not want his baby to feel different from anyone else.

 

If you found your kids to be gay in the future, what would your response be?

 

I would not be surprised as he is raised by gay parents, but whatever he likes, we will respect all his choices. But I hope my baby is straight.

 

Why?

 

I don’t want my baby to experience the pressure and judgment from others because of his sexuality. But that also depends on where he will be in the future.
I think if he lived in an accepting environment, he should be okay with who he is. Living in the United States, a country that now legalizes gay marriage, I still experience discrimination or prejudices on the streets. There was one time I picked up my boyfriend from the airport and we were holding hands and kissed in a taxi. When we got off the cab, the driver gave us a dirty look and said, sarcastically, ‘GOD BLESS YOU’. Moments like these can be extremely toxic and I  don’t want my kids to experience all that in the future. 

What are your plans for the future? 

In the future, I would like to design ready-to-wear for my collections although in thesis we tried to push ourselves more conceptually. I don’t think I am ready just to jumpstart a brand, so I really want to work in the industry first to make connections and learn through the fashion industry. But eventually, I would like to connect the dots and start my brand with all the knowledge I gain.

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