Installation view of Chris Ran Lin on display in <em>Fashion Now </em>as part of the <em>Melbourne Now</em> exhibition at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne from 24 March – 20 August 2023.  Image: Sean Fennessy

Chris Ran Lin

Chris Ran Lin
(Est. 2015, Melbourne)

Chris Ran Lin is an independent menswear designer who specialises in experimental and versatile knitwear. Using premium fibres and fabrics, Lin employs a combination of machine and hand-knitting techniques to create textural and sculptural garments inspired by architecture, structure and materiality. Lin’s designs examine the relevance and practicality of knitwear, and his innovative and functional pieces are worn by a diverse clientele.

On display in Melbourne Now are garments from Lin’s autumn–winter 2016 collection Axes and his autumn–winter 2021 collection Zero, which both encapsulate the designer’s signature soft, curvilinear forms that wrap, envelop or emerge from the wearer. Axes began with research into woven and hand-knitting techniques to explore how knit structures could act as material expressions. To create the collection, Lin developed a system of codes for the knitting machine to generate a lighter knit using merino and wool – a departure from his previous work, which used heavyweight knitwear to grow forms off the body. Retaining the body as a foundation for structure, Lin investigated how minute variations in yarn tension and weight would affect the loops’ roll, and how positioning variations on the body influenced the overall form.

Zero continues Lin’s ongoing experimentations with technique and process, incorporating layering, ladders and holes to create hard and soft juxtapositions, and movement around the body. These intricate designs play with contrasts in pattern, hue, shape and volume, again merging machine and hand-knitting methods. Many pieces from the collection incorporate large hand-embroidered motifs of leaf venation (the arrangement of veins).

Lin creates all his prototypes in his Melbourne studio and works closely with local suppliers to experiment with dyes and fibres to create unique yarns. Once he has determined feasible scale, techniques and designs, his pieces are then manufactured in Shanghai.

Born in China, Lin emigrated to Melbourne at eighteen. Since launching his own label in 2015, his distinctive work has been recognised in numerous prestigious awards. He was the Australia/New Zealand finalist in the International Woolmark Prize in 2016 and 2017; a finalist for the Australian National Designer Award in 2018 and 2019; and a finalist for Best Australian Menswear Designer (2019) and Best Australian Emerging Designer (2018) at the Australian Fashion Laureate awards. He received a Bachelor of Fashion Design (2011) and a Masters of Fashion Design (2015) from RMIT University, and in 2012 won the iD Dunedin International Emerging Designer Fashion Award and Italy’s Mittelmoda Fashion Award.