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XUZHI CHEN

Is a rising star on the London fashion scene. A former student of Central St Martin’s, the enterprising young designer worked with JW Anderson and Craig Green before establishing his own ready-to-wear brand, XU ZHI; already a firm favourite with SEEN…

When did your passion for fashion start?

I have always been interested in Art and making. This interest became more specific after my CSM foundation course. And I just continued.

What was it like working with JW Anderson?

I learnt a lot working for Jonathan. He had a great team at the time and everyone already had a very specific job. I was working in the design studio. Made some great friends, one of them works with me building up XU ZHI now.

When did you decide to start your own collection, and why?

At school I was very tempted to do a full collection before I reached my final year. So I produced the collection first, before I graduated. After I finished the collection I brought it to Paris to test the water. Luckily, we picked up a few stores and everything started from there.

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What kind of feedback did you get on the collection?

A lot of people who saw it liked the techniques and garments we designed. But the market also gave us a clear direction to work on, to make our clothes more wearable and durable. People are also curious about the story and woman of the brand, so we are also considering doing a presentation.

Do you feel there’s a significant interest in young designers at the moment?

I think London has always been supportive to young designers. But being Chinese, I have also received great support back home. Customers in places like London, China and Japan are very much willing to invest in young talent, which made our brand possible.

What kind of music do you usually listen at home? Jazz!

How do you select the materials you use, and what is your inspiration for these?

We make all our fabric. They are all manipulated by very basic techniques like quilting, embroidery, and braiding. The inspirations always come from stories that can lead us through the entire collection. This Autumn / Winter 2016, Xuzhi Chen brings his collection to life in a dream world, where the limit between real and unreal is never clear. The inspiration comes from the film: “The Science of Sleep” by Michel Gondry, a surreal science-fantasy comedy that shows how the human imagination can interfere with the ability to communicate with reality. Surreal and naturalistic elements begin to overlap, and it becomes difficult to understand which portions constitute reality and which are merely dreams. Charlotte Gainsbourg, who plays the main female character, is the muse of this collection; with her sophisticated and simple French girl-next-door style. The collection takes basic wardrobe pieces but focuses on the fabrications. There are creased and raw fabrics, with hand-painted patterns. The designer recreates tartan through quilting techniques, interweaving it with yarn. Through these techniques, all the pieces looks “real” but they are made in a different way, creating an Artificial Reality, made of dream and concreteness.

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What do you think of eco-fashion?

Everyone in the industry is now more aware of the importance sustainability.
We are taking little steps to become more and more sustainable every season, just like we are taking the time to grow our brand. Other than all the materials and manufacture of the products, the process of eliminating waste and increasing efficiency when developing a product is something we are working on.

Was there anyone in your family who inspired your passion to design?

My mom. She is my muse. My “muse” is human, therefore flawed, but is also fully aware of her strengths and always strives to improve and learn. She is modern, independent and shies away from trends and fads, developing her own individuality by surrounding herself with meaningful, unique objects that satisfy her aesthetic.

How do you balance creativity with commerce?

Our products are all very simple shapes. Thus, it is very easy to wear them and also very easy to shift the complete focus to texture.

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What’s your greatest way to get inspired? Movie marathons.

Are you already working on the next collection?

I am thinking about all the things I can improve with our products after getting feedback from our clients, so in that sense, Yes!

What’s your favourite colour? Blue.

What do you like in London in terms of fashion?

London is very accepting, and has a community of young talents.

What did you find in this city that you couldn’t find in China?

A community of young creatives.

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What’s the craziest dream you’ve ever had?

Very recently – Anna Wintour having lunch with me.

What’s your favourite place in London and why?

My home and studio – the most relaxing place in the city.

Credits

  • By Alegna Merlino
  • Photographer Alex Piñero
  • Art Director Pedro Rosenblat
  • Stylist Alegna Merlino
  • Make Up & Hair Stylist Leide Favero
  • Models Anna.P @ Named Model
  • Production by SEEN