In the physical world, Bad Binch TONGTONG pushes the law of physics. The avant-garde brand, founded by Wuhan-born and New York-based designer Terrence Zhou, is best known for its fantastical silhouettes, from ginormous balloon-shaped gowns to exaggerated double hoop dresses. While some of the pieces may be impractical to wear, that’s the point: they challenge functionality to evoke emotion. In short, they make a statement.
Given this mindset, it is no surprise that Bad Binch TONGTONG is now diving into the metaverse, where it can fully actualize its artistic visions. On March 3, the year-old label will release its first NFT collection with the digital fashion lab XTENDED IDENTITY on the NFT marketplace THE DEMATERIALISED. Entitled “INFINITE,” the pieces are built for the consciousness rather than the body.
“The project is inspired from my background of studying mathematics and romanticizes the Greek symbols and math functions,” said Zhou, who first came to the US to pursue a B.S. degree in Mathematics and Engineering before transferring to Parsons School of Design. “The idea of having continuity in my work is poetic.”
Drawing from The Little Mermaid and the Greek mythology of sirens, Zhou’s latest work explores love and intimate relationships through bulbous forms and fishtails. There are three NFTs for sale at varying levels of scarcity: First, there’s a balloon shape with a pounding pink heart, designed to mirror the feeling of being tickled pink, that is priced at €5,000. Then, there are two mermaid tails — in purple silicon and silver — that tell the story of bodily sacrifice and unrequited love, retailing for €75 and €200, respectively.
Influencers @merrylamblamb, @ntahompagazee, and @thisoutfitdoesnotexist wear pieces from the “INFINITE” collection (swipe left).
“This tense composition and contrast remind people of the feeling when they blow up a balloon: as it gets bigger, being infinitely close to the breaking point — that tension-fusing mixture of excitement, anxiety, and ambiguity is what the collection refers to,” the designer described to Jing Daily.
Through this medium, Zhou is able to take his creativity to the extreme. Just as his physical pieces are like sculptures, arguably better fit for social media than the streets, his NFT pieces bank on the fact that people want to stand out online. As such, those who purchase an “INFINITE” NFT have the option to fit the item onto a photograph of their choice via XTENDED IDENTITY’s exclusive fitting services.
“Our mission is to create possibilities and fantasies; garments now don’t have to pertain to the body,” Zhou added. “In this new media wave, the designs, considered impossible to wear and function in real life, are now able to be collected as digital artworks, empowering the owners to share on social media as part of their online identities.”
Zhou is just one example of how Chinese creatives are making waves in the metaverse. XTENDED IDENTITY is another; founded by Yunjia Xing, Ziqi Xing, and Aria Bao, the London-based lab helps emerging designers create valuable digital assets. Over the past few months, it has launched an NFT fashion collection in Xiaohongshu’s R-Space as well as teamed up with one of China’s most popular virtual KOLs AYAYI to create Year of the Tiger NFT mystery boxes, both on the Tencent blockchain.
According to XTENDED IDENTITY , digital fashion in China has unlimited potential and can be compatible with games, social media, and livestreaming across all channels. “With the development of digital assets, blockchain, and AR technology, we believe we can help more and more talented designers and artists to extend their brand identity into the metaverse not only in China but worldwide,” stated the company.
Through the “INFINITE” collection, Bad Binch TONGTONG and XTENDED IDENTITY reimagine wearable art for the virtual world. Blurring the lines between art, fashion, and tech, Zhou ultimately establishes a new way of storytelling and shows that he can be the “Bad Binch” of the metaverse, too.