W e’re Ting Ding and Luz Angélica Fernández. In 2013, we briefly met for the first time through a mutual friend in Berlin while we were both living there. Two years later, in 2015, we reconnected in NYC at a time when we were seeking an outlet for our creative energies that weren’t being fulfilled by our daily grind.
At the time, Luz was painting, bartending, and babysitting, but wanted to expand upon her artistic practice and work on new projects. Having been raised by a creative mother in an apartment full of art supplies, sewing supplies, and closets full of the fabric of every kind imaginable, she began experimenting with home-sewn fashion at a young age. As she moved on to focus on abstract painting, making clothes was always something she knew she’d eventually want to explore further.
After being accepted into the Parsons Visual Art MFA program in 2015, she realized she couldn’t justify going into debt for a degree in an indeterminate field that would not guarantee anything more than access to networking opportunities and chose not to pursue it. She knew she wanted to continue painting and because she had always been interested in textile design, she eventually decided that her next step would be to combine visual art and fashion by painting the fabric that would be used to create garments as the ultimate form of expression.
Ting was tired of working a 9–6 fulfilling someone else’s vision and wanted to explore alternative business practices towards kinder capitalism. Working as an online marketer/statistician over the last decade has allowed her to develop a deeper understanding of the flow and blockages of capital in the present system.
Recognizing the importance of capital’s backward extending hand, Ting wanted to actively fold the act of giving in to the ethos of a bootstrapped venture. The backward extending hand creates a closed-loop network for wealth and assets to circulate to construct a gentler version of capitalism; one that believes in reinvestment.
We were brought together by a shared interest in dance music; our place of intersection would often be at the function/rave. It was actually in one of these DIY spaces, at a party in Trans-Pecos, where HECHA / 做 was born.
The word HECHA is the feminine form of “made” or “created” in Spanish, while 做 is the Chinese character of “to make,” or “to produce”; together HECHA / 做 is a literal representation of us and the first languages we learned to speak, tying us to our cultural backgrounds and origins. Since fashion often finds a way to disassociate from the less attractive aspects of the design process, we wanted to emphasize the physicality of creating something by connecting the labor of production to the brand.
Starting HECHA / 做 has been really challenging but as challenging as it has been, it has been equally as exciting and fulfilling. Every facet of our development has been an important and ongoing learning process. Since we don’t come from traditional fashion backgrounds/education, our approach and energy throughout our trajectory have been thoroughly DIY.
It was difficult to find the appropriate contacts in the beginning, especially as we moved towards the production phase. Knowing that we wanted to support local businesses, we ended up doing a lot of initial legwork through door-to-door cold knocking in the Garment District to figure out our network.
This groundwork highlighted how essential Chinese and Latinx labor is to the garment industry and encouraged us to lean on our respective cultural backgrounds to help foster closer relationships. It has been a huge lesson in communication, organization, and diligence, and has sharpened our focus on the importance of every last detail in every decision we make.
We’ve been fortunate enough (and are so thankful to have had the opportunity) to collaborate with and learn from friends and family. Each of our garment designs was developed by Luz and her mother Lucy Cruz (who is a self-taught designer, sample maker, and custom tailor), with creative input from Ting. Working closely together over the past three years, Luz and Lucy have experimented with and meticulously pored over each garment from the original idea/sketch to pattern, muslin, and sample construction.
After endless rounds of pattern and sample edits, detail decisions, grading considerations, and sizing tests, we have finalized our first collection. Working with her and with members of our community is what has truly has provided us with the support and foundation to be able to make this project a physical reality.
Because we’re such a small team, we each fulfill different roles that entire specialized sectors would manage at more established brands. We are constantly pushing ourselves to do twice as much work for the same result but our extra effort has helped us build our map of the industry, allowing us to think and do things outside of pre-established systems. We are finessing our process with every project and are also learning how to best work with one another as we grow. Together, we work as a complete unit; with Luz using her artistic abilities to drive the frontend creation and production of the products, while Ting is in the backend laying out an “empathy-driven” business model and market strategy for the brand.
An “empathy-driven” gesture would be our Make Techno Black Again hat project, which is powered in collaboration with Grit Creative. The hat celebrates the origins of Techno and pays homage to its roots in cities like Detroit and the African-American working-class experience. The Make Techno Black Again campaign is a project of canonical reinstatement, in which 20% of revenues are donated to Living Arts, Detroit-based youth art nonprofit.
Giving back and creating social alliances akin to subculture are ways in which HECHA / 做 reinforces the relationship that a customer has with the product. We value context and care and aim to inject these values into every aspect of our brand. We take care to operate on an ethical and environmental sustainable level while collaborating with peers to create greater visibility for our communities as our collective context.
By using HECHA / 做 as a platform, we can blur categorical boundaries by experimenting across mediums and working transparently towards human connection and communal support.
Within the current market of fashion, “streetwear” and its photographic documentation and distribution has been collapsed to a point where what you wear represents nothing culturally outside of a visual aesthetic. Fads seem to surface and vanish as soon as they emerge with no aim or meaning behind them.
With HECHA / 做 we’ve put a lot of thought behind the idea of streetwear, what it means to wear apparel that is both meant to be seen and worn at a ground-level. As long-time ravers, we wanted to design the line to be functional and a reflection of our everyday life and personal culture. We then fold these reflections and meditations into HECHA / 做 events to bridge the gap between the consumer and the brand.
Our pop-up in June held at Refuge Arts was a four-day affair hosting vendors, visual art, live music and movement performances, workshops, a panel discussion, and more. The multi-day, multi-disciplinary “conference” allowed us to utilize the space as a blank canvas to be painted and filled with context; inviting friends and peers to participate in a flexible and open format. All of our events were free to attend and live-streamed for accessibility and transparency.
Rather than limiting the consumer-brand exchange to a transaction, HECHA / 做 recognizes that everything and everyone has value and therefore has something to give. The intent is to reveal an awareness that extends beyond trends and the material object; to wear HECHA / 做 is to represent a mentality towards the subversive.
The aesthetic Fernández has developed for the fabric is derivative of her action painting practice and inspired by the patterns and textures of materials in natural and artificial settings such as snow, sand, clay, plaster, tar, and wet cement, accented by neon glow-in-the-dark details. Ultimately, Luz wanted to take her painting practice a step further and change the format of these artworks from two dimensional to three dimensional, making them physically accessible, usable, and touchable.
By hand-painting our fabric and transforming these paintings into one-of-a-kind functional objects: we allow the body to live within a work of art rather than around it. The application of paint adds thick textures and reinforces the durability of the design while visually cloaking debris or stains that may accumulate over time, which may even be welcomed additions to a lifelong patina. HECHA / 做 hand-painted pieces echo sentiments of “haute-couture” for everyday life and we offer a limited lifetime warranty with the hope to encourage everyone to collect clothing that is mendable and long-lasting to reduce the need to consume. We are trying to envision the not-yet-here futurity of the pieces’ and its culture; one that is sustainable and fluid.
Luz Angélica Fernández is a multidisciplinary artist and native New Yorker whose work bridges the intersections between art, design, and technology. As a co-founder of HECHA / 做, Fernández focuses on the design and production management of the brand, as well as paints the fabric used for the mainline garments. The aesthetic Fernández has developed for the fabric is derivative of her action painting practice and inspired by the patterns and textures of materials in natural and artificial settings such as snow, sand, clay, plaster, tar, and wet cement. In her body of work, Fernández’s paintings draw on both the origins of abstract expressionism and the semiotics of the internet age, the titles of which often evoke the social-media informed modes of communication now commonplace in everyday life.
Having always lived in cities (other than her time at Hampshire College) and working in underground NYC nightlife for the past five years, her abstractions examine urban transition– recounting impressions of construction sites, decaying train stations, graffiti, repurposed warehouses, and neon-lit environments. She incorporates lighting from the back in some of her pieces, separating her restrained, bold strokes into sculptural entities hanging on the picture plane. Her contemplative mark-making reflects the physical residue of the passage of time in a post-industrial city. Through her works Fernández channels memory and emotion by creating a metaphor and building textural color worlds from her immediate experiences.
Ting Ding is a Chinese-Canadian statistical analyst, photographer, and visual designer. As a co-founder of HECHA / 做, Ding’s work considers the material composition of fashion production as well as the marketing and commercialization of the brand. She attended the University of Toronto where she studied Business and Economics (2010). At her hyper-capitalist day job at the language learning app Babbel, Ding collects, interprets and summarizes numerical data into useable, salable business drivers.
Her analysis of the impact of changing market circumstances influences her artistic endeavors in the form of a self-designed “empathy-driven” business model, focused on sustainability and the standardization of industry standards. Ding has also provided visual work in collaboration with rhythmanalyst DeForrest Brown, Jr. (Speaker Music) including his mixtape with composer Kepla “The Wages of Being Black is Death” and their performance at the XXII Triennale di Milano.