In July, Parsons teamed up menswear tradeshow PROJECT New York for the inaugural “Next in Class” program, which afforded five of the school’s top graduates a chance to meet the buyers who help make the fashion industry tick. Here, the emerging talent and “Next in Class” participant Ming Peng shares his experiences, hopes, and plans for the future. Don’t miss our features on his peers Adi Mucktar-Barnes, Ace Kim, and Raymond Natale.
Mix the innovative futurism of Junya Watanabe with the fantastical whimsy of Thom Browne, sprinkle a dash or two of Rei Kawakubo for good measure, and you’ve got Ming Peng. That’s not to say that the 22-year-old Parsons graduate isn’t unique in his own right. In fact, Peng’s senior thesis collection, which he unveiled at the college’s annual benefit in May, was deeply personal. “My inspiration was my early experience with social anxiety,” he said. “It was about feeling and being under pressure in your daily life.” Peng, a native of Chengdu, the capital of China’s Sichuan province, added that he feels big cities—New York City, in particular—contribute to crushing anxiety.
Research does actually show that urban environments often have negative mental health consequences on city dwellers. Pile on the immense pressure fashion designers face today (See-now-buy-now! Direct-to-consumer! Eight collections a year!) and you’ve got a recipe for neurosis. Or, in Peng’s case, a visually arresting menswear collection that injects humor and animation into an otherwise serious topic. “I tried to make people look at anxiety in a humorous way and not a scary way,” he said. “I tried to make fun of it a little.” This translated into wavy shapes, zig-zag trimming, and oversized silhouettes that are emblematic of the maze-like inner trappings of a brain that won’t shut off.