Sankuanz Spring/Summer 2017 catwalk show.
Conrad Xiamen exterior.
Zhe, who founded the internationally acclaimed label Sankuanz, is known as a ‘big brother’ to other young talents in the city. He is one of a handful of rising designers based in Longshan Cultural Creative Park, a government-supported complex with low-rent studio space for emerging names. Shortlisted for the LVMH Prize, Zhe is making waves for his experimental menswear.
“My inspirations come from how youth live and their favorite cultures,” he explains of his references, ranging from Japanese manga to Chinese calligraphy. Zhe has already shown at London Collections: Men and Paris Men’s Fashion Week. His label is stocked internationally at Galeries Lafayette, Opening Ceremony and the Comme des Garçons Trading Museum among other prominent outlets.
Designer Min Liu, who also studied in the UK at London College of Fashion, returned to her home town to set up her label Ms Min. She has built a reputation for her elegant collections and eye for exquisite fabrics. “They both are outstanding designers with their own unique style,” says Zhe, who stocks both of their labels, Deepmoss and Ms Min, in his multi-brand concept store Akipelago (AKP). While he describes the Xiamen scene as low profile, the trio have recently been thrust into the international limelight. The New York Times likened the designers, along with a few others, as the “Antwerp Six” and referred to them as the “Xiamen Gang”.
While Xiamen is now on the fashion map and has become a breeding ground for creativity, with designers collaborating with contemporary Chinese artist Xu Zhen among others—Zhe worked with Xu on his futuristic 2017 spring collection The Safe House A—Zhe himself is weary of all this attention getting in the way of Xiamen’s original appeal. “I don’t want [the scene] to develop,” he admits. “Or I should say, I hope it will digress a bit. I just want to live here quietly and do my creative work, enjoying the sea and the sun.” Min Liu shares a similar sentiment. Asked what are her hopes for the future, she replies: “I’m living my dreams. Doing what I love is exciting. Doing what I love in a place that I love … is quality of life.”