This week, all eyes were on London-based, Chinese-born womenswear designer Huishan Zhangas he debuted his SS20 collection at London Fashion Week. Inspired by the “infectious appeal” of the swinging ‘60s, Zhang’s SS20 collection is the latest example of the young designer’s unique ability to combine playful silhouettes and prints with timeless materials, classic lines, and romantic color palettes. Zhang turns the old cliché of “combining East and West” on its head by refusing to go the easy route, instead seamlessly bringing elements of material, flow, and color together to create something wholly unique.
Since launching his eponymous fashion line in 2011, Zhang has rapidly developed an expanding global footprint, with his womenswear collections selling at prestigious stores such as Bergdorf Goodman in New York, Hong Kong’s JOYCE, and Selfridges in London just to name a few. Along the way, the young designer has received an ever-growing number of industry accolades and outfitted celebrities such as Naomi Campbell, Gigi Hadid, and Saorise Ronan.
Awash in somber pinks, skyline blues, emerald greens, and crystal whites, highlighting textures from smooth pearls to ornate lace and filmy organza, and ranging from qipao-like short dresses to silky power suits, Zhang’s new runway collection invokes a “rhapsody of emotions,” leaving observers curious to discover what exactly inspired it.
To learn more, Jing Daily spoke with Huishang Zhang ahead of his London Fashion Week runway show about his brand, his enduring relationship with China, and the inspiring effect of love and heartbreak.
In your own words, can you please let us know who you are, who your designs are for, and why you do what you do?
I was born in China but have lived in multiple countries and continents, which has allowed me to open my eyes to beautiful cultures and experiences. My designs are for a woman who is culturally intrigued and has an open mind. The designs are not for the trend-led but for the woman who wants to stand out from the crowd and appreciate a sense of timeless elegance and beauty. I love doing what I do, as the experience from season to season is always an adventure exploring culture and craftsmanship.
What was the catalyst and inspiration behind the SS20 collection? How did you structure this season? Is it purely your creative outlet or do you weave and balance strategic design decisions to accommodate what you know your customers want to buy and wear?
Love, heartbreak, starting all over again, and mixed with the youthful spirit captured in the swinging ’60s. The enormous sense of adventure and new beginnings that comes from that decade. I find huge satisfaction creatively through my designs, but I’ve managed to merge those creative impulses with more of a strategic approach based on my customer and what she likes from season to season. I love that my customers have introduced me to some of my most classic pieces that they keep requesting and coming back for.
You have lived all over the world, from New Zealand to Paris and now London. Why did you decide to open your flagship in London?
London has always been considered a melting pot of diversity and culture. So it is where I wanted my customers’ experience, and mine, to grow from. Having said that, everything I do including design is touched by my heritage and Chinese traditions for which I am eternally grateful for. These ingredients are what contribute to the wide outreach my collections have.
Do you feel designers with rich cultural experiences have a different approach to design? If so, do you think your designs have a more global appeal?
Culture is the root of everything, and I definitely see more impact from designers across the world who allow their collections to be designed as such, allowing them to appeal to a much more international audience and naturally creating a global appeal.
Having been born in China, how important is the Chinese market to you personally and professionally?
Very important, as it has supported me since my debut collections both in terms of press, sales, and personal relationships to the industry. This in return has allowed me to grow as internationally as I wish while always feeling incredibly rooted and at home in China.
The last time you spoke to Jing Daily, you mentioned you wanted to introduce “The Made in China luxury idea” especially for the young generation. You’re one of the only designers to truly fuse their rich heritage and new experiences into something completely new, neither East nor West. What steps are you taking to accomplish this and what do you think it will take?
For me personally and professionally it has been a huge driving force to give Made In China a new storyline, not just of luxury but one full of heritage, beautiful craftsmanship, and talent. I never want to repeat what has already been created, I want to push boundaries and start new beginnings in the mindset of the people and how they choose to dress and bridge cultural ideas and beliefs. Everyone has started to really take note of where their day to day purchases, let alone clothes, come from. For me, that is very important as it puts the design and ‘the making of’ the pieces into a more treasured context that will stand the test of time and trends.