Chinese by birth, Dutch by marriage, Xander Zhou has been carrying a secret weapon for styled-up and -down sultriness for more than one decade now. New York’s very own self-proclaimed fashionally inclined cultural ambassador Jessica Laiter takes us on a spin through Zhou’s Fashion Nation.
出生在中国的荷兰华裔设计师Xander Zhou，在十多年来的设计生涯里他紧握着自己的秘密武器。纽约文化大使Jessica Laiter将带我们走进Xander Zhou的时尚世界。
“A COLLECTION HAS A CERTAIN RHYTHM TO IT, AN INTERNAL LOGIC, AND THE PIECES CAN BE MUCH BETTER UNDERSTOOD AND APPRECIATED WITHIN A COLLECTION THAN OUTSIDE OF IT. CONTEXT IS EVERYTHING. 一个系列有着自己的旋律，一个内在的逻辑，任何一件作品只有放到整个系列中才能被更好的理解和鉴赏。背景故事就是一切.” Xander Zhou.
Most people who aren’t obsessively scanning fashion blogs and Instagram accounts on a daily basis, are often confused by that sick infatuation many of us share for fashion and design. The catwalk can look like a mishmash of twisted, slashed, frazzled materials, in bright and dull, metallic and mat hues. It’s assumed to be a large splash of randomness.
Just as is the case in most things in life, one collection, from an objective point of view, can be confusing. From the subjective viewpoint, however, it can make sense. Much sense. Collections themselves are often inspired by artifacts and people from around world, creating crazy and overwhelming scenes of valuable insights into other cultures. They are the over-exaggerated extensions of a designer’s cultural interpretation. Taking it one step further, those exaggerated ideas are exactly those basics one must explore in order to truly understand and appreciate a designer’s innovative undertakings.
Innovation is a very personal thing and although Xander Zhou respects tradition for its number of highly respected templates, like any designer, he does add a little bit of Xander and little bit of Zhou into the designing mix.
Originally from Jilin, in northeastern China, Zhou studied fashion in the Netherlands, but returned home for the opportunity to launch his eponymous label. The wonderful thing about China is that many of its designers are starting from a blank canvas, a fruitful foundation for the creation and expansion of China’s fashion industry. Creativity has all the space it could possibly desire in order to flourish. Zhou’s designs lean neither to the East or the West. He supremely focuses on detail, quality and originality. Ridding the world of that “Made in China” stereotype comes in a close second.
An example. The protagonist of Zhou’s A/W 2015 collection was the All American Clint Eastwood Cowboy. The foreign perspective of this guy comes down to one macho macho, semi-barbarian, man who in his lifetime has had to jump two hurtles: The conflict that arose as civilization pushed nature aside and the growing desire to live and embrace a life independent of social constraint. The man is often seen as an explorer with “noble” motives, grinding and pushing his way through many an obstacle as to gain the freedom he deserved.
Zhou’s personal outward-bound experience from China found these characteristics in that All American Cowboy to be both appealing as well as self-reflective. A collection was born. I myself admittedly have a penchant for the China-based stories, but the American dream ain’t so bad either — insert wink. On my quest to get acquainted with Zhou, primarily through ye good ole Internet, a series of quotes stood in as an introduction. A handful of examples:
“I enjoy the occasional pajama-clad weekend.” (Amusing, one must admit.)
“I think it is wrong to suppose that anything coming from China should per definition be distinctly Chinese.” (The “the grass is greener on the other side” type deal, one might say.)
“Actually, I don’t like trends very much, they affect one’s ability to judge.” (As my roommate would say, “Pinterest stifles the creativity.”)
PRESERVING TRADITIONAL CULTURE THROUGH FASHION MIGHT BE RESPECTFUL TOWARDS TRADITION, BUT IT IS NOT RESPECTFUL TOWARDS FASHION.通过时尚来沿袭传统文化可能是对传统的尊重，但是这种做法却是对时尚的轻视。
Much of Zhou’s inspirations are based on what he absorbs from daily life: Socializing with friends, traveling the globe and going about the gains, remains and sizzling fashion campaigns of the day. There haven’t been many directly apparent Chinese cultural influences to be spotted in his creations, thus far, though Zhou certainly does admire as well as respect the designs of his Chinese contemporaries like Masha Ma, Du Yang and Qiu Hao.
Zhou的很多创作灵感基于每日的生活点滴：与朋友交往，外出旅行，以及查看时尚动态。到目前为止，在他的创作中并没有出现很多明显的中国文化的影响，但Zhou对于同代的中国本土设计师像玛莎(Masha Ma)，杜旸(Du Yang)，邱昊(Qiu Hao)是还是十分尊崇的。
In the creation of his own fashion nation, Zhou in August of 2009 debuted as guest editor of China’s notable “iLook Magazine” and was placed on the cover as the featured symbol for it’s Coming Out theme. The issue appeared on stands exactly one year after China had hosted the 2008 Olympic Games, symbolizing China’s coming out to the world. The idea for Zhou in posing was to highlight and celebrate both new designer talent as well as the gay community.
在他自己的时尚创作世界里，2009年8月中国知名的“iLook Magazine”邀请Zhou作为客座编辑，并将他的照片登载在以出柜（Coming Out）为主题的一期杂志的封面上。作为中国走向世界的象征，这期杂志正好在2008北京奥运会的整一年后出版。选择Zhou作为这期的封面人物的目的是庆祝中国新生代设计师的诞生，同时给予同性恋者群体一些关注。
The Zhou label sports the slogan “Made On Another Planet” as a replacement for the very common”Made in _____” label, based on the belief that when consumers cast their eye upon the “Made in China” tag, they will automatically side-eye the mass-production assumptions. Which, let’s face it, is true; we do still feel that way. This is the very reason why these designers are crucial to the evolution of globalization. They are crucial to the creation of the new “Made in China” culture.
Zhou用印着“在另一个星球上制造”（Made On Another Planet）标语的标签来替代常见的“___制造”的标签。当消费者看到“中国制造”的标签时，他们立刻联想到的就是大规模量产。的确如此，这种联想如今仍然存在。正因如此这些新锐设计师对全球化发展的起着决定性的作用，他们是开启新“中国制造”文化的关键。
If you feel like creating a little Zhou culture inside you wardrobe, go right here to spot more of Zhou’s latest collections. “Made in China” got itself a brand new tag.
Originally written by Jessica Laiter for her website Chinese Graffiti (read on to find out more!).本文出自 JESSICA LAITER的个人网站CHINESE GRAFFITI（点击继续阅读）
Additional editing by Elsbeth van Paridon.补充编辑：ELSBETH VAN PARIDON
CHINESE TRANSLATION BY LI “LILY” DAN OF KITAYAMA STUDIO (李丹)
Featured Image: Photographer Yuan, Copyright @ Trunk Studio.图片：PHOTOGRAPHER YUAN，版权 @ TRUNK STUDIO
A few additional words about Laiter and her fashion-promo website Chinese Graffiti:
CHINESE GRAFFITI was launched in order to provide the world with an exciting and dynamic way to learn about Chinese history and culture via a fashion platform, and of course to promote emerging Chinese designers.
Learning about China was a passion of Jessica’s since childhood, and has only grown stronger with the years. Always knowing she wanted to play a part in cross cultural communication, she first tackled the “easy” task of learning Mandarin, going on to graduate from The University of Pittsburgh with a dual degree in Chinese Studies and Communications Rhetoric. In the past 10 years, she attended intensive summer language programs, studied, worked and traveled across China, and is currently pursuing a Masters Degree in Translation at New York University.
Jessica has worked in the footwear, branding, and consulting industries, helping to bridge communication, business, and cultural gaps for major clients from both East and West.
Living in New York City means having the world at your fingertips. Unique life experiences have guided Jessica into rare opportunities where she has met fashion, business, and cultural leaders from cities across the globe, many of which share a passion for multiculturalism and unbounded support for emerging talent. The hope is to share with you this passion and to pass on why China is not just a country of 1.4 billion people, and should be recognized for more than its economic success. It is a place of tradition, culture, fashion, art and design. And its story deserves to be told.
After tackling Beijing for some six years where she worked for China International Publishing Group, she spent a moment in time moseying down steep alleyways and writing about their fashionable and underground features in Hong Kong.
Van Paridon most recently managed to claw her way through a Europe-based academic endeavor called "Journalism". 'Tis in such fashion that she has now turned her lust for China Fashion/ Lifestyle and Underground into a full time occupation.
Van Paridon hunts down the latest in Chinese menswear, women’s clothing, designer newbies, established names, changes in the nation’s street scenery, close-ups of particular trends presently at play or of historical socio-cultural value in Chinaplus a selection of budding photographers.
Paired with a deep devotion to China’s urban underground scene, van Paridon holds a particular interest in the topics of androgyny, the exploration of individuality and the power that is the Key Opinion Leader (the local term for “influencers”) in contemporary China.