Xander Zhou has been moulding his idea of the next millennia for the past four seasons, inviting us aboard his 'Supernatural Extraterrestrial and Co' spaceship, with his ranked uniform and utility belts. Gone is the idea that future fashion is flashing lights, screens on trousers, or dangly alien headbands; to really be the wardrobe of the future, it has to be realistic, innovative and wearable. In steps Xander Zhou S/S 19. ‘When you think of futuristic style it’s very easy to go into metallics and those sixties shapes but this is how the new generation sees the future,’ says Zhou. Classic materials such as cotton and nylon were challenged with sci-fi safety panelling and techy fonts. Second skin cyclist sleeves with Zhou’s now ubiquitous ‘XZ’ logo peered from under boxy sleeved t-shirts in utilitarian shades of misty blue and grey, while a hot pink shirt with scalloped pocket was a welcome bright blip on the radar of neutral tones.
Oversized rugby shirts nodded to a ‘nineties suburban dad’ aesthetic and were made future-proof tucked into large structural diaper-like pants. In fact, there were many fathers on the runway, but here they were expecting! Models had been fitted with prosthetic pregnant bellies and walked in soft pink flannel tracksuits or a 'New World Baby' t-shirt with acid-wash jean - most with hands lovingly clasped over bump. 'Why can’t men have their own babies in the future?’ says Zhou. 'In fashion, we talk about identity and the concept of unisex, but in the future, we will just be human, not man or woman, but human.' Zhou’s post-human future unravelled even further with a multi-armed model in an everest green coat. 'When I think about future human, I don’t think it’s just about technology, it’s also about function. Our brain is already digitised and we can upload but we don’t have enough arms to keep up with our brain!' This mix of the familiar and bizarre was a triumph.
Zhou’s designs are not just a sci-fi fantasy, he is poking fun too. 'A lot of sci-fi movies have a mystery oriental master character. I feel that Asia is surreal to the rest of the world - it’s another planet to many - I wanted to make fun of that.’ With flannel towels and socks and slides - much akin to that of a Chinese elder-, multi-armed models, pregnant men, and models that orbited the runway rather than returning backstage, this collection showcased an enticingly dark humour.
Is it utopian or dystopian? 'I have no idea!' Says Zhou, 'I’m so curious about the future because it all depends what we do now.’ We should all be keeping an eye on what Zhou is doing now. The serendipitous music by Kraftwerk’s Emil Schult, the 'Neanderthal Aroma’ being pumped into the space, the Gentle Monster glasses, the yet-to-be-released Nikes, the high-performance materials, the tailoring, the palette - all succinct and sublime. When we spoke earlier, Zhou said that he could potentially progress into movie-making or art; after today’s offering, one hopes that Zhou's future will always be fashion.