Always using traditional craft as the starting point of his practice, Su Wenhai graduated from the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts in 2013. Today, the designer is based in Shenzhen, China, where he operates under the ZAZ moniker. Wenhai’s label is best characterized by the way its founder uses fabrics; tradition is an essential element of his work, but it is used in such a way that customary techniques are not just repeated as a mere copy, but employed in a contemporary spirit that brings tradition to the future. In his Shengxi collection, for instance, Wenhai reconstructs fabric through tearing and filling, exploring the properties of the material and experimenting with it as a jumpstart for further development and innovation.

Embarking on an almost impossible journey for “The Future of Fashion is Now”, ZAZ first of all travelled back in time to (re)create a rare material: gambiered canton gauze silk. This special organic fabric can only be found in Guangdong, and is manually made through a complicated process of dyeing and submersion in river mud. Although the process is normally only possible between April and July or August and October due to the requisite amount of sunlight, Wenhai managed to create the silk in wintertime. His work for “The Future of Fashion is Now”, named Photosynthesis, brings back a practice that is almost extinct but—literally—adds a contemporary layer of modern-day geometric patterns, which only comes out after the dyeing and (sun) drying process is completed.