ZHU brings his fans on stage with festival jacket debut
In the 14th floor DTLA fashion studio suite, everything was black. That is, of course, everything besides one major statement piece and the pearly whites smiles of the dream team who resides there. ZHU, the musical mogul with an arcane aesthetic, has been merging the gap between fashion and electronic music along with Emmy Slattery and the rest of his design co.
“I think that music and fashion is always very tied together culturally,” said ZHU as he leans on the work desk on which the magic happens. “Electronic music in America lacks the same kind of cultural relevancy that hip hop or other genres may have. I don’t think that was always the case, because in the 90’s and early 00’s- whether it’s from Europe or other parts of the world- there was an influence in the way fashion was in club culture and rave culture, but here it’s more festival culture. However, for my music, I always see it visually and it’s always been an aesthetic in which I see a silhouette and the way the clothes move when I make the music. We just wanted to show that there was more than just tank tops and neon stuff, there is really a deeper cultural fashion perspective in electronic music.”
This year, ZHU, Emmy and the team whipped up something very special for the electronic artist to wear that allowed all of his fans a little spot on stage at with him. The artist came out at the legendary EDC festival in a jacket ornamented with real wristbands sent in from fans from previous shows of his. The jacket is not within the dark and gothic aesthetic, as it is colorful and joyous with sentimental value to the hundreds of moments that ZHU has been impactful in his listeners lives.
“I think a lot of fans with stories that come along with their wristbands that they sent greatly outweigh my desire to keep my aesthetic all black,” stated ZHU. “I thought that some of the moments that these kids wrote about made this piece much more about the fans than it is about me. When I’m walking out with this on stage, it’s about the fans who are like, ‘Oh my god, my experience is being rewritten on a fashion piece’ which makes it tangible.”
“When the fans first sent it in their wristbands, they didn’t know what it was for. They trusted in us that something dope would be created out of it. For the people who have sent in their wristbands, for ZHU to validate and acknowledge their memories and reasons for sending it makes it really special” Emmy added.
So, why EDC to debut this one of kind fashion experince?
“EDC is probably the largest music festival in the world and has the most American history. Even when I was young, I was on the other side of it. It has a lot of purpose for dance music. People go to EDC and wear whatever they want, they wear interesting fashion. I just think it’s a place where people can wear what they want, have a good time and just dance,” ZHU answered.
Emmy added a beautiful sentiment in following this, “Coachella has such a heavy fashion base around that, you don’t see any fashion lines come into EDC. There is such a huge amount of people marketing to fashion stories, so if we can create something that starts conversation with something as simple as a wristband that everyone resonates with, that’s our impact on the culture.”
Not only did the team merge fashion and music on stage at EDC, they allowed festival goers to dip into that on their way to Las Vegas. They set up the pop up, Alien Jerky, to display some fashionable fits for purchase and awe on your way to the weekend. I know what you're thinking, though. Alien? Jerky? Fashion?
“Recording the last record, I was in New Mexico in the desert. We went to some pretty interesting sites that had some aliens… apparently. We kind of always were into the idea of doing something more extra terrestrial, and randomly one day we came across this beef jerky place,” ZHU explained.
“I think I passed through it on the way to EDC a few years ago. I was just an attendee going to EDC and that was my journey, so I wanted to do something that was outside of the box while directly speaking to those literally going to EDC,” Emmy further explained.
“We went to this guys house, and he had sketches of UFO hotels and wanted to build a new civilization out there, and we were into it. We thought it would be something fun and something very in the realm of desert and electronic, and their beef jerky tastes great,” said ZHU.
“I would say that when we started doing clothing, we wanted to make merch more fashionable. We wanted to not let it just be a t-shirt and logo, even though people want that. It opened a huge can of worms, because we were doing some crazy stuff and sometimes I’m like, ‘Why are we doing a pop up at a beef jerky place,’ you know? Fashion has just evolved into more of a way to express quickly, rather than waiting for SS FW and going through the cycle of traditional projected fashion. t’s about connecting with the youth, connecting to music, connecting to creatives. It’s all about the story and how you make an experience completely new and completely life changing, because why would you want to wear something that doesn’t have the message you want to convey.”
With pop-up’s like these and truly underground events, ZHU has a level of exclusivity that arouses his devotees.
“I think social media has revolutionized everything, it’s allowing people to access their favorite artists and brands at real time. For me, I’m all about the experience. You can tell millions of people something is worth buying, but if they don’t feel it for themselves, it doesn't matter. They’re not going to have the same relationship with the artist or the memory in the same way. That’s why for me, it’s more about giving the people who want those things something, not just everyone who has their ears open.” ZHU furthered.
ZHU brought his fans on stage with his festival jacket at EDC a few weeks back while revolutionizing the merge between electronic music and fashion. He will continue to push the boundaries until there is nowhere to go, and we are all here for it along the way.