“For my thesis collection, I explored vintage menswear—the classic leather jacket and military parka, for example—and found that in menswear, the utility of a garment always gave birth to a classic that never went out of style.”
Yunxiang (Sharon) Zhou was born in Tai'an, China, to a neurologist mother and cancer-researcher father, and never thought that she would come to New York and study fashion. When she was 5, her family moved to Israel, and once she overcame the initial culture shock, she learned Hebrew and made Israeli friends. Zhou loved to draw from a young age. Before she moved from China, she used to sit with her grandfather at his desk and watch him write Chinese calligraphy. By the time Zhou had entered high school, she wanted to be a graphic novelist. After starting her studies at Parsons, this interest evolved into a focus on fashion design.
"After four years at Parsons, I have learned a lot about fashion that I was never aware of before. My biggest gain, I think, is my personal awareness of the issue of sustainability. My focus is to establish a utility in the garment that the wearer would find useful and efficient for everyday life, and hence never throw away. I also utilize textiles that age well, such as leather and denim. For my thesis collection, I explored vintage menswear—the classic leather jacket and military parka, for example—and found that in menswear, the utility of a garment always gave birth to a classic that never went out of style. Menswear enthusiasts hang on to their waxed Barbour jackets and old Levi's jeans, and they delight in the small details that were originally incorporated for utility. Based on the idea of workers' garments and tools, I developed a collection of aprons that celebrate utility. I incorporated the long-established details of workers' uniforms, from office workers, construction crews, hospital personnel, farmers, and those in the military—details that tell the story of their day-to-day labor. I am a strong believer that work is a person's greatest source of pride; when we have honed our craft, we feel accomplished and valuable. My thesis is a celebration of work."