ZL by ZLISM is a modern unisex brand who creates ready-to-wear collections under the creative direction of Zoie Lam. Before seeing the collection, it was the confusing name that first struck me. ‘ZL’ stands for Zoie Lam, and ‘ZLISM’ refers to her philosophy and ideas, as well as representing the imaginary planet that encompasses her work. Lam is an illustrator, hence the artistic flare to all her creations and inclusion of her paintings in ZLISM’s collections. She injects aspects of her knowledge of couture and the fun characters she has designed into the garments. Lam creates a joyful, bright and fresh atmosphere in her AW19 collection ‘Who Am I?’ – the relevance of her designs in recent street fashion is undeniable. She strives to explore the soul in this collection – how can we connect with our own, delve into the deeper parts of it, and explore our emotions in an abstract manner? – The answer is clearly exhibited in the designs to compliment her ideas. Lam also likes to express opinions surrounding social phenomenon, which we can see filtering into her work too.
Two sets of clothing are presented, the first dominated by shades of green. These fluorescent neons are juxtaposed with monochrome patterns including checkers and graphic explosions to evoke and contrast feelings of happiness and sadness in the same vision. This unusual and risky approach pays off – it aesthetically pleases the audience with the beautiful illustrations layered on top of striking colours. The garments presenting slogans such as “Go where you feel alive” and “Take what you need”; the font type forces the audience to think about what is screaming out at them; it connects to each person in a different way.
Transparent materials are used in the form of trousers, where Zoie’s quirky illustrations are fused and encapsulated between layers, showcased in a clear light. The transparency of the textiles used eludes to a window into the inner self, emphasising the raw emotion and passion emitting from each individual piece. Zoie’s incorporation of her illustrative skills is positively effortless and beautiful – everything feels like it belongs together and has been constructed in a way so that the eye appreciates the vision as a whole rather than focusing on specifics.
The second set of clothing is based around a fluorescent orange shade- sticking to the bright colour palette. Cargo trousers and sweats dominated this section of the collection, with words of encouragement including ‘Kindness’, ‘Courage‘ and ‘Understanding’ appliqued onto the surface of the garms. Lam, once again, undeniably connecting to the audience, aiding them to engage with the pieces on a personal level, falling in love with the beautifully-illustrated designs. There is a continuation of contrasting the blazing shades with monochromatic prints from the first set.
Aside from the well-designed and constructed clothing, the accessories definitively tied each look together. Multiple pieces included body harnesses made from reflective materials were strapped onto the models, and embellished with ZLISM‘s motto ‘Take what you need’. It was like the harnesses were almost protecting and shielding the models hearts. You can also note the subjects sporting tinted eyewear with chunky chains hanging from them, completing the overall look. The socks were woven and covered in bold fonts stating ‘BAD MOOD’ and ‘FUKK’, supporting the running theme. The shoes were kept simple – your everyday white trainers, taking into consideration not to overdo the brightness of the collection. They were adorned with minimalistic chains, bringing them into the look and giving them a place, but careful not to distract them from the main pieces.
The amount of detailing gone into this collection is unbelievable. Lam uses her skillset to commercially explore current trends but in a subtle manner, in which it can still be highly appreciated. Lam’s concept behind the collection forces you to reflect on what is being communicated to them. I think fashion is always more successful when insight has been inputted into it giving the clothes a purpose as well as a meaning – that is exactly what Lam has done here. References to ZLISM‘s young market and youth culture marks Lam as a one-to-watch designer. Despite the heavy streetwear influences, each piece has their own edge, setting the collection apart from anything I’ve seen in the industry. It is unquestionably relevant and modern, but also fresh to the eye. I do not doubt in the slightest we’ll be seeing more of Zoie’s work in the near future. Her ability to capture modern style and bend it in her own way is appealing, and I applaud her for it.
Words By Ava Frances J, Images By Muyuan Qin
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*All images are the intellectual property of Muyuan Qin licensed to Ragged Culture Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved.*