Shenzhen is a modern day behemoth of a city; its rapid expansion over the years has transformed what was previously a quiet fishing village into the Silicon Valley of China and a mega-metropolis. Despite the developmental strides of the entire city, the streetwear and fashion scene hasn’t quite caught up – especially when compared to the likes of New York and London. ROARINGWILD is an independent Shenzhen-based streetwear brand not complacent in the quiet state of the scene. Instead, they have aspirations of becoming the vanguard of Chinese youth culture, not only for Shenzhen – but for China as a whole.
Through ROARINGWILD, the founders wish to encourage young people to chase after their dreams and fearlessly express themselves, rather than conforming to the expectations of society. In a way, the brand’s attitude pays homage to the American countercultures of the 1970s and 1980s that set up the foundation for modern day streetwear. Holding the belief that streetwear is more related to lifestyle than fashion, the founders of ROARINGWILD create what they consider to be hip and relevant to their own lives, as opposed to creating with the current trends and appeasing as many consumers as possible. It’s this same mentality that puts further emphasis on their brand ethos and instills a sense of authenticity into their designs. Neocha recently talked to BG, the creative director and head fashion designer of ROARINGWILD, about their brand’s identity and the current state of streetwear in China.
Neocha: How did the brand start? Who are the minds behind this project? What inspired the idea of starting a streetwear brand in Shenzhen of all places?
BG: ROARINGWILD was founded by the six of us during college. It was me, CY, MIMI, QIAO, PPC, and REIKA. All six of us grew up in Shenzhen and went to the same university, and that’s how we all got together. At the time, it felt like there weren’t any interesting independent brands in the city; combine that with the fact that the six of us were quite interested in streetwear culture. These two things led to us creating the brand. In the beginning, we were just having fun with it, making small accessories that people liked. Our early days are actually quite similar to the DIY ethics many other streetwear brands were founded on. We kept refining the brand and we somehow ended up where we are today.
BG: ROARINGWILD起初是由我们六个人 (昵称: CY、饼干、MIMI、阿乔、高鹏、妹子) 在大学期间创立。我们六个，都是从小在深圳长大，也在同一所大学里读书，于是就自然走到了一起。我们做这样一个街服品牌，是因为觉得身边缺乏有意思的原创品牌。抱着我们自身对街头文化的共同热爱，就做了这样的一件事情。最开始的时候，我们就是很纯粹地一起玩，做一些大家喜欢的小东西。和所有的街服品牌一样，从做许多DIY的事开始，不知不觉做到了现在。
Neocha: How would you say the urban environment of Shenzhen plays into your design? How does the cityscape influence your brand?
BG: The brand and its products is meant to serve us, so a lot of the designs will be based on our personal needs and how the city influences us. Shenzhen is located in a subtropical region, so most our products won’t be for the outdoors. You also won’t find too many jackets and raincoats that are commonly seen with European brands. Shenzhen is a young city, but it subtly and constantly exerts an influence on the direction of our brand. It’s difficult to compare it to other Chinese cities with a long history (such as Beijing, Xi’an, and so on). Many people consider Shenzhen to be a barren “cultural desert”, with only a few decades of history behind it, but in a place like this is where an oasis is most needed.
Neocha: How does China as a whole influence your brand and design?
BG: All the founders are Chinese, and we all hold a reverence for our culture. Naturally, the brand and designs will be inspired by China. Personally, I’m quite interested in Chinese characters and Chinese philosophies – this is reflected in our brand’s concepts. We don’t want ROARINGWILD only to represent us or the city. We look forward to the day when our brand can be a strong representative for China and become a well-known brand amongst the other amazing international streetwear brands out there. We want it to be up there with Stussy, Supreme, Vans, Palace, RIPNDIP, White Mountaineering, Neighborhood, Undercover, Stone Island and so on. Some of those brands are as young as our own brand, but they still exude their own style.
BG: 首先，我们团队本身就都是中国人，也都十分喜欢中国文化，自然，整个品牌和设计也都基于中国这样一个大环境。我自己本身很喜欢汉字的文化以及中国文化哲学类的东西，这在整个品牌的理念中都会有所体现。我们同时也希望 ROARINGWILD 不仅能代表我们抑或是深圳，也想有朝一日他能代表中国，在街头文化的领域向全世界发声。就像一些优秀的国外品牌如Supreme、Stussy、Vans、Palace、RIPNDIP、White Mountaineering、Undercover、Neighborhood等等，他们当中也会有一些像我们的品牌一样年轻，但都散发着自己的魅力。
Neocha: How would you describe the streetwear scene in Shenzhen? How does it match up to the likes of cities such as Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, or Tokyo? How does it match up to other international cities like New York and London?
BG: The streetwear culture in Shenzhen is a bit behid in comparison with these other cities. Not many people know what they want out of life, what they want to wear, and even less people have their views on lifestyle. Most people just follow the fads, they wear whatever’s trending. It’s not like Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, or other metropolises in the region where people are more confident. For example, I feel in places like Tokyo, young people are even more confident and able to express themselves more freely. Most people in Shenzhen care too much about what other people think, and in doing so have neglected themselves. I think everyone should live their own life, instead of worrying too much about what other people think.
Neocha: What kind of challenges have you encountered getting your brand up and running?
BG: We really came from the streets. We were just normal kids with an interest in streetwear and nothing more. We didn’t create this brand in the same way that a well-developed company would have. So in the beginning, we failed to factor in a lot of things – such as resources, finances, manpower, and technique. We were a team but we had no one to depend on besides ourselves. We’ve developed into a mature company now, but there will always be more challenges to overcome.
Neocha: Do you feel like the streetwear scene has changed since ROARINGWILD started? Do you feel like more Chinese youth are becoming more interested?
BG: In the first year that ROARINGWILD was established, many more independent brands and streetwear brands began popping up. Of course, this was already somewhat happening before, but with the development of the internet and Chinese people becoming more open to things like these, more and more brands are able to thrive. The interconnectivity of the web allowed streetwear to be more accessible to the youth, so more people are beginning to accept it. To some extent, I would say it’s becoming more and more mainstream. More people are also beginning to be exposed to the lifestyle behind the streetwear. This is a great sign. A lot of young people are living lives that go against societal expectations and are thinking more independently now. They’re not living just to live anymore.