“Temper Takes Five With…” presents a brand spankin’ new interview quickie that leaves behind all the lovey-dovey mussy fussy and gets straight up down and dirty in five takes. One artist/innovator/inspiration at a time. Next up in our series, we have timezone traveler, fashion writer, newly hatched entrepreneur and Temper tiger Zhuorui Fu. The clock is ticking!
Take 1! Zhuorui Fu in a nutshell: Chinese, globetrotter, international fashion writer and now ticking off that “entrepreneur” box on the bucket list… What sparked a) your international journey (re: YouTube) and b) that fashionable fire within?
Fu: Well, first off, I am a traveler. I have had the good fortune of being able to visit many places in the world, but in all honesty I think for me, it’s very important to contribute to the community. I have within myself Chinese, UK, U.S. and French elements — because I live/ have lived there, went to school there, have friends there, blah blah blah [chuckles] — and I truly admire the good parts of each and every one of those cultures. I first and foremost try to contribute to the communities in which I find myself at any given point in time.
My global journey stems from the sheer sense of curiosity — I was craving to see more of the world when I was younger, ergo… The good thing is that once you see more of the world, you grow much more sympathetic towards the human race at large, as well as gain a more in-depth understanding of different societies. The negative thing is that I may have grown a tad too transcendentalist and have gotten slightly tired of traveling — which for me at this point is more of an exhaustion than an excitement. This is of course a very prejudiced, spoiled and unfair view — I know, I know. [insert wink]
Fashionable fire comes from style. From a young age onwards, I have consistently been trying to add some elements to how I present myself by wearing little accessories that set me apart from the crowd. I just don’t want to exude “conformity”! Nevertheless, I’m not one to go all out when it comes to my appearance. [There is indeed a very fine line between looking edgy and full-fledged court jester; just watch any random Fashion Week attendee line-up. Getting off that Temper soapbox now — we know, we know.]
I’m just more into a subtle little twist in terms of image upgrading — always keeping it feminine never girly. My past travel experiences in particular have enabled me to shop in boutiques all over the world; so whatever I wear, has a story of its own to tell. And is uncopyable.
Take 2! On the positive side of things: What is it about fashion (especially China Fashion) that gets your ticker ticking?
Fu: More original designers. I have met some true artists and designers, especially local ones, and a number of artists returning from abroad. If you go on to Ju Lu Road in Shanghai, there are many good brands with a Chinese touch to them. I personally love shopping for that really old (Classical Chinese old, mind you) Chinese look. Many Chinese designers take their inspirations from the 5,000 years of the nation’s history and they create garments similar to what was all the rage back in the Tang Dynasty [618-907], Qing Dynasty [1644-1912] or whatever hundreds (even thousands) of years ago!
There are many Chinese materials such as silk, Chinese dye/ dyeing techniques, and so on and so forth, which got buried/lost in the catacombs of time, but are once again gaining increasing levels of appreciation today. Those elements embody some solid cultural values. I think it’s quite cheap, gratuitous even, to create some type of East-West “fusion fashion” by simply slapping a dragon on a T-shirt. What I really admire, are those people who stick to/by one element for one lifetime, learn the history and story of this detail, build a community around it and subsequently produce and present that element as a product in its own right. You can find more and more of these artisanal artists across China and that is one fashionably evolutionary fact I feel very positive about!
Take 3! On the flipside: What is it about today’s fashion (scene) that ticks you off?
Fu: The heavy make-ups seen in the U.S. and the UK; the Korean plastic surgery face as spotted in China. In sum, things that are not real and have been heavily fabricated ( whether this constitutes make-up, runway clothes, over-confidence or under-confidence). They showcase the pure pursuit of looks, but not a balance of looks and wisdom.
Take 4! Back to ticking off that “entrepreneur” box! Your brand spanking new web shop presents a “collective” of handmade labels from all over the world… Questions remain: What’s the common denominator? What’s their main “niche”? What’s the “look”?
Fu: Zhuorui Fu Collection: Allow me to take you through that check list — and quite the long list, ’tis!
Common denominators: Simple, classy, stylish, high quality, real, handmade. And sustainable — sustainability should be a top priority with any (millennial) entrepreneur in the 21st Century. I do not sell haute-couture or products that are OTT-marked at USD 5,000-something. All the products are sold at a reasonable price. I scouted every featured and designer myself, either through career objectives or past travels, networking, personal experiences, etc. Each product hails from the sweat, time and undivided effort of its creator. Each piece is filled with their passion. I have followed these designers from the sketching ground up to the sculpting everything by hand, making the required adjustments and, in the end, presenting their babies at their shops (or via private listings). That is what touches me — artisanal items made with love and zeal instead of just the mass creation of one idea.
Main niche: Uncopyable selections. Brands can come in in all shapes and sizes; big small, developed, in development,… They are all very different and some collections sell out instantly, whereas others may take some time to gain popularity yet prove to become stylistic classics in the end. Because each product is crafted by hand one at a time, every product is unique by its own account. Many of our featured selections may appear to be very simple, but there’s always something in the details that proves their individuality. And that is precisely the point of displaying boutiques or designer brands instead of H&M or something you can buy at Walmart.
The look: Real, simple, classy. I always become very repetitive insisting that my creations are not about fashion, but about style. [insert wink] Style stems not just from one’s appearance, but from the books one has read, the places one has traveled to, the people one has loved. Style can also be fancy or colorful or gothic, but quality sets apart the proposition and temperament of one individual. I tend to like old-school and naturally sexy looks; having said that, thus far our products are more often produced from old-school materials such as leather, silk, velvet, etc., instead of, for example, transparent plastics. Certain brands carry multiple products, just think of designer Cui Xu who already can boast a few selected established lines, yet I (for now) only opted for the ones that can better cater to a customer’s looks and the ones that are made inside the U.S.
Take 5! The New Made In China tag: Opinions, please. And please… Don’t hold back!
Fu: I’m actually very proud! I think that nowadays, many of the so-called Made In China labels actually denominate good quality design and originality. I also found that in wealthy Western countries, or across the non-Asian in general, many still think China is a poor country with a massive “thief/thieving” population, which is not true. Many Chinese towns have evolved into super affluent and creative beings, i.e., my hometown of Shenzhen. Because of the long history and culture, Chinese brands have a plethora of tags to play with. As I already mentioned earlier on, I for one am happy to seek out and shop at small, artisanal Made in China shops abroad. But that just limits to some silk shops etc.
I think Made In China is in fact a big and diverse basket — given ZTE Corporation, Huawei, and so the list continues, too are Made In China. The frictions these companies have created in terms of a global trade war have generated bipolar standings in politics — a few “data” which admittedly lie outside the range of our talk here. Getting back on topic, I generally see the new Made In China tag as a positive and trending contribution in terms of style and the diversity of the boutique scene around the world.
Let’s just say… Anything big, whether it concerns a brand, corporation or ego, can present a potential hazard, but as far as the fashionable Made In China label goes… We don’t have to be too concerned about any ticking time bombs just yet.
For more info, contact Zhuorui Fu via:
Facebook: Zhuorui Fu
All images come courtesy of Zhuorui Fu Collection