originally posted to the class magazine, “Hilltown Edge,” on November 2.
Upgrading Business Casual with Xander Zhou at Shanghai Fashion Week
Xander Zhou’s new collection is out of this world: futuristic, unforgettable, and genuinely, A.I. generated. How does Zhou manage to balance innovation, imagination and functionalism?
On October 7th, 2023, Xander Zhou debuted his Spring 2024 Collection as a part of Shanghai’s Fashion Week; or what he refers to it as on his Instagram page, the start of the Pro A.I.Volution. Tails, accessories, and cellphones strutted down the runway in a white, warehouse-like setting accompanied by perfectly tailored suit pants, PVC-like over-pieces, and all types of jackets constructed in non-traditional fabrics for a fantastical, but practical twist on Eastern Tradition.
With these pieces, Zhou attempts to spark the connection in fashion between humans and A.I. by drawing on storytelling elements to create characters within his looks. He’s designed all seventy nine pieces in the collection drawing from inspiration from either prompts or concepts that A.I. has provided – in addition to his genius.
In an interview with Women’s Wear Daily, “I just think that it’s impossible to imagine what that future looks like, the human mind and its imaginations are too limiting,” Zhou [says] . . . “AI can assist a designer in the stage of processing content. They are highly efficient in presenting you with 1,000 sets of design ideas.”
Models, with runway identities such as cyborgs, lizard people, or super-humans, were spotted on the runway adorning petal-zipped collars that represented their second skin, colors of planets or other universes or galaxies they would have called home, with individualistic accents on a few models, such as multiple arms, multidimensional cutouts, or protective plastic armor. Zhou, a true revolutionary, manages to maintain the wearability of these pieces by nodding to utilitarian and urbanist style and utilizing heavy-weight cottons, knits, and modernist silhouettes, while still keeping his vision alive. According to Essential Homme: “I wanted to create a cinematic scene that’s more surreal than fashionable,” Xander Zhou had explained.
All 300 runway attendees were also wearing white lab-coats, to further immerse themselves into the narrative that Zhou created.
Zhou, who obviously adapts a controversial Pro-A.I. stance in the world of fashion, attempts to not only explore the somewhat complicated and ever developing and changing relationship between humanity and A.I., but to also bridge the gap of understanding between people who disagree with his ideas and people who agree with them. His emphasis: the balance of humanity versus artificial humanity – focusing on how they intertwine, while still making sure they won’t blur.
“The fashion system’s rules are being rebuilt, old orders are collapsing. Rules? What rules?” Zhou told WWD.