Style Profile - Lexi - Shanghai Fashion Personality
Updated: Sep 10, 2019
One of the most striking characters in Shanghai, Lexi’s approach to genderless fashion is a bold statement in China - known for its conservative stance on open sexuality. In a country where homosexuality was decriminalised as a mental illness less than 20 years ago, Lexi shuns categorisation and conformity and champions the spirt of personal freedom and self expression.
From Hainan Island in South West China, not far from Vietnam, Lexi moved to Shanghai in 2018 to study at the Marangoni Institute. At just 20 years old, Lexi’s stylistic vision and confidence is conceptualised into a daily look that combines 'Blitz Kid' New Romantic insouciance and Parisian Chic with a Next Generation Chinese vision.
"Non-binary" is just a vocabulary created for me for human subjectivity. I don't want myself and what I express to be categorised by a single definition. I am me.
“I don't change my appearance depending on where I’m going. How I look is how I look every day, so I always say a thank you to my twelve year old self, thanking myself for persisting with being myself, and as a result I’ve gained more and more people's understanding and recognition.
“Fashion is my weapon against a boring life, it protects me like armour. My childhood was very insecure, which led to me dress myself up. I wanted to seem less approachable - although now it has the opposite effect! Fashion allows me to express myself. It’s not just about the clothes, they open the door to opportunity. I’ve met all kinds of grand and wonderful people and been able to exchange ideas with them.”
“I think everyone has a window to release their soul. For me, this window is fashion and clothing. These shaped and textured fabrics are my language, and you can easily understand the language because it is very impactful.”
“In 2008, I was still in the fourth grade of elementary school. At that time, I saw the Spring Summer Chanel Show on TV. It was the first time I was exposed to fashion. I was completely fascinated, those colours, lines, materials, models and scenes! My emotions were instantly mobilised, my adrenaline was flowing. That was a life changing moment.
“Music is also indispensable part of my life. I like to choose the right music for different situations. I listen to fashion show original soundtracks which makes me feel like a supermodel when I walk.”
Street Style Planet Earth caught up with Lexi to chat about his perception of style, fashion and the challenges and rewards of being a resolute individual in a land where conformity and compliance are the norm.
What are some of your earliest fashion memories?
I didn't have much money, and my remote hometown had no fashion culture to absorb, so I bought a lot of cheap and exaggerated items and dressed myself like a parrot! I was ridiculed by my classmates and friends and my family’s incomprehension.
In my first year of junior high school, the pants that the school sent us were blue with white stripes. In the winter, I wore them with a green coat (yes, I like green very much) and a pair of Nike white sneakers. I thought this would make me very eye-catching amongst my class mates.
What are your plans after graduating?
I want to be a fashion blogger. I’m doing some modelling and styling as well as studying When I visit my home town, I teach local children English and drawing.
What is your outlook and philosophy on your personal style?
I don't have a fixed formula for dressing. Anything in life can inspire me. My personal suggestion is: Read more Papers & Magazines. There are too many fragmented pieces of information on the Internet today. Most people have poor resolving power, they cannot correctly screen out content that is beneficial to them. I’ve read Fashion Magazines since I was a primary school student, so this has laid a good foundation for the screening and transition to qualitative change of my personal taste. And remember to keep thinking while you are reading.
The fashion I understand is not simply Fashionable, nor is it just wearing gorgeous clothes. In my opinion, fashion has no class or hierarchy. It is owned by anyone that has the passion. It is an attitude and means of self-expression with clothing.
This means understanding yourself and the kind of lifestyle you have chosen. Currently, there are many people chasing one trend after another. Of course there are those who really accept and absorb the trend but importantly, there are many who do not.
Attitude is more important than the individual pieces that go into a look. Fashion is not only a weapon against a boring life, it’s also my language. I speak my language through the clothes I wear.
How do you describe your personal style?
My Game, My Rules.
Where did you find your clothes? Do you have any secret places ?
Regular stores, second-hand markets and Taobao. My favourite is Taobao because you can find a lot of interesting and low-cost clothing. I like Shanghai’s Wuyuan Road “Fucking Store” and “Jinhuanghuang Clothing Wholesale City” on Gaoke West Road. They are great places to check out with friends.
Do you have a style icon?
To create good style, it’s not necessary to be influenced by current fashion trends. It is important to stick to what you love yourself. It is not meaningful to buy too much clothing. What makes sense is that you know what you want to express and stick with it.
Who is your favourite designer?
How important is Shanghai Fashion Week to both yourself and China?
Very! It allows me a platform to show myself, to get inspired and to meet many interesting people. You will witness the rise of Chinese fashion design. Many excellent designers are using their work to show the world the creativity and ability of the New Generation of China. This is a very interesting and exciting process.
Do you see clothing and fashion as genderless?
Women are offered a wide selection of quality styles. I’m open to most designs.
Women can wear men's clothing with no hindrance, because the default male attribute is good, positive and progressive. However male clothing if feminine or neutral will encounter various doubts, because it’s considered that the relative male attribute of the female is worse. This phenomenon needs to be broken and changed.
I don't care if people understand the way I wear clothes because my clothes are for me. I can't use clothes to serve the public. If the aesthetic is restrained or controlled by the public, it is like catering to everyone. There are too few people with unique visions.
If the purpose of doing something is to let others think that I am the person that society expects me to be, then that doesn't make much sense.
What is the best thing about Shanghai?
Opportunities and resources, as well as interesting people.
What’s annoying about Shanghai or something you think can be improved?
The feeling of suffocation. The fast pace of Shanghai has forced everyone to turn themselves into a machine that will follow the rhythm of the city at high speed. In other words, everyone wants to have a relationship with the city. It is increasingly difficult to see a sincere smile from the heart.
Beyond fashion, what do you enjoy doing?
I like to learn new skills, which makes me feel safe while constantly enriching myself. I also like to swim and discover good food, which may be because I was born on an island. Watching old movies is also something I love doing in my spare time. It’s like revisiting my childhood, allowing me recall and remember the social atmosphere and life at that time.
Travel is also one of the things I enjoy the most. I enjoy the surprise of preparing a travel plan and exploring unknown destinations. This is the spice of my life. It also allows me to relax and create a better state to return to study and work.
What do you think about the trends and fashions on the streets of Shanghai?
Everyone has their own favourite style, as long as everyone is working hard to manage their own life, I am happy for them. Each of us comes to this world not to judge others, just to understand the world.
Which new Chinese brands have impressed you?
Yirantian. The designer expressed "Women are a state, a kind of swaying, half abstract, half realistic", the word “Female” is also the theme of Yirantian, depicting an attitude and pure independent female image - straightforward and sexy. Bold and free. They are definitely one to watch.
Do you feel that you will always live in Shanghai?
No, Shanghai is just a stop on my life journey, but I will stay here for a while yet.
Are there other Cities you would like to live in?
I will go to Europe to continue my fashion course next year. I hope to be surprised by Milan, Paris, New York and London. I want to experience and integrate with the different atmospheres of these cities which are so important to the fashion industry.
What do you do to relax in Shanghai?
I will go to the park or the lake. I love plants and water. This allows me to fully relax and meditate. You don't have to deal with people, so time is completely your own, which allows you to analyse and know yourself.
Perhaps "Community Forest Park" and "Jing'an Park" would be a good choice. But occasionally I will also go to the surrounding cities, such as Hangzhou, Suzhou, Ningbo to sample a different atmosphere.
Shot on location in Shanghai, China.
Words & Photos by Al de Perez
For more great Alternative Youth Culture photography from around the world, Follow the Street Style Planet Earth Instagram Page.
If you have enjoyed this feature then be the first to find out about forthcoming features on Artists, Musicians, Creatives, & Fashion Industry Insiders from Models to Stylists from Korea, Japan, Taiwan & China as part of Street Style Planet Earth's "Asian Special" launch by Subscribing At The Bottom of The Page