The Sankuanz show (presented by GQ China) had an edgy vibe going on; like that tension that rises in the midst of an rowdy crowd just before it all kicks off. Tribal, cult, clan… call it whatever but the sense of ‘belonging to a group’ was present in force. Prints inspired by Russian prison tattoos appeared on a blank canvas of loose silhouettes in sporty shapes: white ink on black, black ink on white. The prints included snakes, stars, penises, barbed wire, eyes, bombs, flames, Chinese symbols and more.

The second half of the collection brought back the link to sport in a different way; through the use of giant claws and hands reminiscent of foam fingers. Sprayed in neon paint, sometimes with lettering / slogans, these colossal structures hung with gravity from the arms of the models. They added a sense of mob mentality, violent protest and a lack of humanity. Alongside furry knee-length shorts in camo and flame prints, they were one of the only injections of colour in the collection.

Veils covered some of the models faces, whilst others had bandannas loosely tied around their necks. Many wore face paint with large manga inspired eyes drawn over their own. They held little coloured lights in their teeth. As exciting as it was, amongst all of this visual noise it was difficult to focus on the bones of the Sankuanz collection. With the conceptual elements and styling being so powerful, the individual pieces felt slightly insignificant in comparison. It was almost as if Shangguan Zhe wasn’t confident enough in  the strength of the collection to let them speak for themselves, but that’s just my personal opinion. Either way, it certainly wasn’t boring.

Written by and images © Francesca Bassenger.