“In our society, there are so many underlying restrictions. Dress codes is one of them. However online there’s no such thing. When I post on social media, I can wear whatever I want,” Zhou says. On Instagram he’s been documenting his design process without filters, creating a space free of restrictions or fixed formulas of how fashion should be made and presented. Some of his peers even joke that he is “the elephant in the room” since the looks he creates pretty much take over the space in his New York flat. Staged in a narrow hallway, Zhou and his friends take iPhone portraits wearing dresses molded with considerably large and tiered lampshade-like panels, or with some kind of a massive pear-shaped inflated balloon, most of which are topped off with a hat whose brim is to blend with the rest of the outfit.
Zhou’s take on fashion is out of the ordinary and the results are often extreme compared to what we’re used to seeing in the industry. But when learning where the designer comes from, somehow it all makes sense. Terrence’s pledge to follow and do what feels right for him no matter what others may think goes a long way back, starting with the Latin ballroom dance classes his mother enrolled him in when he was a kid. Although he had his mum’s full support, as one of the few boys in the room, he remembers feeling the weight of the peer pressure put on him to join classes a typical young boy would usually undertake in Yuhan,China such as mathematics or English. The pressure got to a point where Terrence wanted to stop attending dance lessons altogether, but, thanks to the little black and shiny Cuban-heeled shoes he was required to wear in the studio, his early love for fashion took over the fear of judgment.