Although the press notes for Xander Zhou’s show that unveiled his menswear collection for Autumn/Winter 2013 stated that the young Chinese designer intended to bring streetwear to the runway and was inspired by “the feigned nonchalance of back alley boys who seem averse to highbrow fashion”, this was perhaps the most sophisticated and elegant collection shown during London Collections: Men in January 2013.
Despite the display of the somehow subversive anti-fashion phrase ‘Boys will be boys’ on garments and accessories, Zhou’s collection could have not shown more maturity and proficient command of sartorial languages. It featured elongated silhouettes and garments that reinterpreted sportswear and military jackets for the modern and fashion-conscious man, with added layers of luxurious fabric cleverly draped over shoulders and onto sleeves that could be zipped up into hoodies.
In addition to conventional suits, bomber jackets and sweatshirts, the collection, entitled ‘Homies’ revealed very sculpted and ingenious shapes. The playful possibilities of reshaping the male silhouette in a seemingly casual approach was centred around the shoulder lines with on and off-shoulder coats, trenches and jumpers that, in their evocation of women’s stoles and sleeveless dresses, questioned the gender rules in fashion in a very elegant manner.
Furthermore, the exploration of bulbous proportions suggested that the work of Cristobal Balenciaga or Christian Dior had been appropriately learnt and mastered. Such influences could be seen in the fine balance of the body line between waist and shoulders, as well as in the quilting and folding techniques and in the colour palette that comprised greys and blacks highlighted by elegant shades of sky blue, red, and camel.
Xander Zhou studied industrial design in China and fashion design in The Netherlands before launching his label in Beijing in 2007. He became the first Chinese menswear designer to exhibit his work outside his country when he showed his Spring/Summer 2013 designs during London Collections: Men in June 2012.