Xu Zhi founder Daniel Xuzhi Chen is a Shenzhen native who graduated from London's Central Saint Martins last year, and has already been short-listed for the LVMH prize for young fashion designers.
Xu Zhi has gone far in a short space of time. How did you come to participate in the London Fashion Week Designer Showrooms? "I started developing the brand with my team before graduation. We did autumn-winter 2015 three seasons ago and we started the brand at that time. It was a very natural continuation of the graduation collection to showing spring-summer and now autumn-winter 2016. We are also showing at the Designer Showrooms in Paris."
What inspired your latest collection? "The inspiration for this collection comes from the 2006 French movie The Science of Sleep, directed by Michael Gondry and starring British-French actress Charlotte Gainsbourg. It's about a geeky French guy who falls in love with the girl next door (Gainsbourg). The film mixes up the guy's dreams and everyday experiences so that the viewer is unsure about what is real and what is imaginary. This collection is recreating the idea of merging imaginary and real worlds.
"These clothes look like the wardrobe of an ordinary French girl but, when you look closer, there is a twist. So the stripes are slightly 'off' and the tartans are like regular tartans but with a manipulation of the textures, which makes them surreal. Also the jumpers, which we call a 'fake knit', look like knitwear but they are actually all frayed fabric.
"The colours are a continuation from the spring-summer collection where we also used shades of blue and orange. This is a toned-down, darker, winter version of that collection."
What kind of woman are you designing for? "We design for a very independent woman who knows no one is perfect. She is conscious of her weaknesses and flaws but also confident, because she is aware. She is sensible and appreciates crafts and art over trends. The look is quite subtle but with innovative techniques."
Where are your clothes produced? "Our production is in China. We handmake all our fabrics. Everything you see is made in our little studio."