SFW 16/17 : Ground Zero Interview
In depth interview with the founders from Ground Zero during SFW.
“Ground-Zero”; a literal translation of the designer duo’s philosophy -everything has to start from zero, where possibilities are unlimited. Brothers Eri and Philip Chu founded the anti conformist brand in 2008 where the concepts are often conflicting and contrasting. This season, graphic prints merged with irregular-cut modern aesthetics; sporty silhouettes and bold pops of color are matched with Chinese-inspired patchwork and embroideries.
“We designed the collection for the downtown girl who is rebellious in spirit but embraces her femininity. She is driven by self-expression and stands out from the crowd by customizing her look with patches, embellishments and accessories that reflect her mood,” said Philip Chu of the collection.
Interviewing the brothers during SFW, they give us their inspiration behind the transformation of their brand over the recent years as well as the reason for wanting to enter China.
1. Although Ground Zero is from HK, it initially started showcasing its collection in Paris, London, and New York, what is the reason for this? Do you think the Chinese market in general is more accepting of the collection if they believe it comes from abroad?
There wasn’t any strategy we planned out for Ground Zero, nor did I think showcasing the label abroad would make it more accepting towards the Chinese Market. It was more of a spontaneous chance and going with the flow; I use to study in London, so the sales / PR agencies that I met and worked with were all based in London. Later on I was approached by Totem Fashion, my Paris agency who organized our shows and press relations during PFW. A few years later, Simon Collins (former dean at Parson Fashion Design and Creative Director as Nike APAC) thought our brand would be very suitable to show during NYFW, so we moved to New York.
2. Explain the china trend your showcasing for FW (is it to be closer to Chinese consumers). Can you also explain the transformation of the brand?
The first few seasons were more based on graphics, but now it’s more true to ourselves. Drawing many inspirations from the 90’s, since that’s when we began to follow fashion. I think were are now more a streetwear/ rtw label with a 90’s spirit. The Chinese motifs were not intentionally done to draw close to Chinese consumers, but rather referencing back to what I thought was cool in my childhood.
3. What are the key challenges and opportunities you’re facing in china as an emerging designer wanting to penetrate the market?
When I design I don’t focus on what the market demands or what strategies would be most effective. We believe if the design itself is good, there will be supporters. There are a lot of challenges going into such a big market. I think the selling culture is so different since the structure or platform of online shopping is so diverse in China. There are so many platforms like Wechat, Weibo,Taobao…that makes it so accessible to shop for clothes. It’s a huge market and opportunity if done right, and we’re starting to adapt to these new channels to sell our pieces. Another challenge would be communicating with factories and really designing with the construction in mind. Having to deliver an idea on paper to 3D could have details easily lost in translation, especially if the silhouette or construction is more intricate.
The Chinese market is only beginning to acknowledge and celebrate Chinese fashion. It’s a lot more fortunate nowadays, since social media is such a direct and simple way to showcase your work to the public. When we first started, there wasn’t a sophisticated digital space to easily showcase our work online. However, the challenge now is to be original since there’s a lot of emerging new designers and competitors, so it’s really important to be ourselves and let our personalities show through amongst others.