Chinese fashion designer Xuzhi Chen

10/mag/2017 05:03:24 davisyellow Contatta l'autore

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Why rising Chinese fashion designer Xuzhi Chen sees London as the perfect base and China the market to reach

Xuzhi Chen’s label may have only presented four collections but the young London-based designer has already impressed influential retailers and won plaudits from the fashion world.

He was a semi-finalist last year for the prestigious LVMH Prize and Asia finalist for the International Woolmark Prize, and his recent catwalk presentation in the Teatro Armani in Milan was praised by industry bible Women’s Wear Daily for a “polished, tightly edited show”. He followed up with more stunning examples of his vision of modern femininity blended with artisanal textures during Shanghai Fashion Week and now is planning ways to expand his team in China to handle production, sales and marketing.

His career is taking off quickly but Chen (known as Daniel to colleagues and friends in London) comes across as clear-thinking and level-headed, thankful for support and focused on his goals for his Xu Zhi brand.

London is where Chen designs and plans his strategy. “It is the perfect place for me to stay at home and really think,” he says.

His collections are not just about the clothes but fabrics. The Milan catwalk show, which he describes as “a really professional experience that taught us so much”, and the Shanghai presentation, where he recreated the inspiration for the collection (an installation called The Visitors by Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson), highlighted deconstructed fabrics – raw-edged cotton and denim patchwork for skirts and high-waisted trousers; silky fringing for movement on dresses, created seemingly by unravelling ropes of yarn and embroidered with intricate wave-like pattern on one skirt; or loosely assembled into a lacy skirt and worn with a leather jacket.

The work is complex but the silhouettes are relaxed and feminine. “It is easier to transform our emotions through fabrics – pieces that look as if they’re falling apart, while also sticking together,” he says. “The contrast of fragility and strength is translated into every piece: they have a personality and we want customers to feel sophisticated yet subtle when wearing the clothes.”

His clothes appeal to those in their 30s and above, although more casual offers lure teenagers. “I did a store event for the fashion-forward customers at Reel in Shanghai and a 65-year-old lady bought one of my pieces and put it on with the jeans that we do, and she looked amazing.”

Customers buy into the full-on look, but there are also pieces that are more moderate, toned-down versions where the complicated artisanal textiles are just used as a detail or an appliqué.

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