Anna Zhang is an Asian fashion designer currently residing in New York. In September 2022, after showcasing her latest haute couture collection at New York Fashion Week, Anna’s work received extensive coverage from major fashion media outlets worldwide, and her designs were featured in fashion magazines the Vogue China, Bazaar Vietnam + more. Celebrities such as Julia Fox, Yu Jingtian, Emma Corrin, and others have also reached out to Anna with collaboration invitations.
In February of this year, Anna Zhang, a Chinese fashion designer currently residing in New York, exhibited her latest collection titled “A Letter to the Underworld” in New York. The exhibition was jointly organized by ANNA Z and the New York creative agency DUN DUN Agency, and took place in New York SOHO, for a duration of five days. The exhibition not only featured the highly acclaimed knitwear pieces from ANNA.Z., but also showcased Anna’s design “sketches” for the first time. The exhibits included interactive films, 3D modeling sculptures, and other contemporary art forms, providing guests with an immersive experience while narrating the fascinating brand story behind the exquisite designer pieces
IN CONVERSATION WITH ANNA ZHANG
Describe yourself as a creative and when was your first approach to fashion?
I am Anna Z, a boundary-pushing Asian fashion designer based in New York. My journey into the world of fashion began seven years ago when I participated in a fresh fashion design competition in Beijing. Despite my lack of experience with sewing machines, I crafted my first “fashion project” using paper boards and glue. This early exposure ignited a strong passion for fashion at the tender age of 18.
What is the most challenging aspect of being an independent fashion designer?
For me, the most significant challenge lies in finding the delicate balance between Art and Commerce, Design and Business, and Life and Work. Striving for equilibrium in these areas requires constant effort and adaptability. While I deeply appreciate the recognition received from industry professionals and the unwavering support of my loyal followers who appreciate and purchase my designs, I understand that achieving success in design involves meticulous analysis of target customers, understanding their preferences, and discerning when and where they will embrace my creations. This ongoing pursuit of balance remains at the core of my journey.
How do you connect with potential buyers or customers, and what actions do you take for this? Do you work with B2B showrooms or prefer concept stores/stockists?
My approach begins by lending my works to stylists for magazine shoots, which allows me to forge connections with buyers through these stylists. Maintaining strong relationships is vital, and I consistently update them with the latest lookbooks. Furthermore, being featured in prominent magazines has led to a growing number of followers on Instagram, some of whom visit my commercial website and add my designs to their wish lists. This strategy has proven effective in building networks and reaching potential customers. Additionally, I collaborate with a fashion buyer’s online showroom where my latest collection is showcased and available for purchase.
Describe your typical client’s personality in a few words. How do you envision ANNA Z as a brand making an impact in your clients’ daily lives?
My typical clients are modern city dwellers, both young women and men aged 15 to 25. Many of them are art school students or young professionals in fields like finance and law. They seek practical, wearable pieces that exude a cool and subtly provocative character, and ANNA Z’s designs fulfill these desires.
What are your thoughts on the opportunity of selling your pieces online today? How do you perceive digital fashion and Web3.0?
Selling pieces online presents an extraordinary opportunity for individual designers, and I eagerly anticipate the emergence of Web3.0. As someone with a strong online presence through websites, social media, and magazine features, the majority of my customer base comprises netizens. Consequently, I prioritize online stores as the optimal platform for customers to delve deeper into the world of ANNA Z before making their purchases.
How does your brand contribute to sustainability?
Currently, my focus lies in fully fashion knit pieces, which eliminates the need for cutting and sewing, thereby minimizing waste materials.
Being a designer based in New York City, what are the challenges that fashion designers must face? If you could choose to live in a different city, which would it be?
In New York City, fashion designers encounter two major challenges. Firstly, the high cost of living and establishing a business makes it difficult to cover expenses as an individual brand. Building recognition and experimenting with new styles require financial resources, creating a constant struggle to generate income that outweighs the costs.
Secondly, the presence of numerous talented artists and designers in New York City makes it challenging to stay focused on one’s original vision. With so many unique styles and concepts being showcased, it’s easy to lose sight of one’s own artistic identity. However, this vibrant diversity is also what makes New York City so captivating.
If I had the choice, I would love to reside in my hometown, a medium-sized city in China. Although the fashion industry is almost nonexistent there, it provides a sense of tranquility and serves as a wellspring of inspiration for my talent and skills. The projects I undertake are often inspired by my family and hometown, making it an ideal place for me to work.
What would you write in a letter to your future self?
“Hi ANNA, wherever you may be, I have no doubt that you are still tirelessly pursuing your dreams. If you ever feel weary along the way, I hope you find the strength to pause, take a deep breath, and regain your focus. Remember, your passion and determination have brought you this far, and they will continue to guide you towards success. Stay true to yourself and never stop reaching for the stars.”
Follow ANNA Z on Instagram HERE
words + interview: Mira Wanderlust