Terrence Zhou Instagram Handle: @bad_binch_tongtong
The New York-based artist and designer Terrence Zhou takes a radical, networked approach to fashion. Zhou discusses the influence of social media on his designs and creative process in this episode of In The Know: Style Changemakers.
“Sometimes, we have a lot of limitations in the physical world,” Zhou says to In The Know. “Online, we are actually showing our true personalities that we might not show to our colleagues in the office or students in a school.”
Zhou's clothing displays his outlook on the boundless expression that social media affords, with sculptural designs and exaggerated fabric manipulation giving each garment an otherworldly quality. The fact that he recognizes his clothing as less than optimal exemplifies his perspective on the limitations of everyday life. Zhou says, "As someone who is creating things, it always starts with a question within the society that cannot give me an answer directly.
Zhou aims for a genuine connection between his designs and the people who wear them, despite the many fantastical elements he incorporates into his clothing. Zhou's multifaceted, post-designer/post-artist identity is reflected in his clothing, which emphasizes uninhibited self-expression. Zhou explains that he identifies as both an artist and a designer so that his peers will recognize his efforts. To paraphrase, "I don't think these two labels or these two positions can define who I am in my mind."
According to Zhou, there are many layers to fashion. "I believe that fashion is becoming more interdisciplinary at the present time. He tells In The Know, "Fashion isn't just about clothes and style; I think what you make makes who you are."
Zhou's COVID-19-era designs fused the expressiveness inherent in his work with the online freedom to express that work. No real authorities existed to evaluate my efforts. Remembering his Instagram days, Zhou says, "I just posted whatever I liked." Zhou's popularity on Instagram led to a steady stream of inquiries from fans eager to buy their favorite pieces of clothing. Zhou was so inundated with requests that he decided to start a business and make more marketable iterations of his creations.
Zhou says that the first step in any creative process is to have an idea in your mind. He says, "People taught us how to plan in a school or in any situation, but they never taught us how to believe in our own vision." Having that, in my opinion, is crucial, and everything else will work itself out. I believe that each individual possesses a special quality. You can't give everyone the same piece of advice because no two people are the same. Even I haven't figured it all out yet.
Without a doubt, Zhou's work is visually arresting, but his inventive process and multifaceted approach to design also help question ideas of mutual exclusivity in the art and fashion industries.