“Shanghai is the city that gives you all of China but a little bit more,” says Xuzhi Chen, founder of the emerging fashion brand XU ZHI. His diverse background makes Xuzhi a perfect ambassador for the contemporary Shanghai fashion scene. He grew up on the outskirts of Shanghai but had eyes toward the West. After studying womenswear design at Central Saint Martins in London, he went on to launch his namesake XU ZHI, a brand known for its appreciation of fine materials and craftsmanship. For his most recent capsule collection, Xuzhi designed a line of luxe pajamas inspired by and debuted at W Shanghai. Like the hotel itself, the Xuzhi pieces offer a captivating contrast of old and new that illustrates a time lapse in Shanghai’s design influence.
Just before he unveiled the collection to a captive international audience, we caught up with Chen at a local street market to hear more about his process.
As an artist, what inspires you the most when traveling?
Xuzhi Chen: The opportunity to throw myself into an entirely fresh and new environment, and meeting new cultures and groups of people who live a completely different life than I do.
When did you know you wanted to be a fashion designer?
XC: Back in high school. I used to have a teacher from France who’s truly artistic and romantic and would often lecture us about art and design. It was at that time that I first got to know great works of designers like Alexander McQueen, who had this amazing ability to convey emotions through his fashion designs. This is surely what I am always aiming to achieve with XU ZHI and my creations.