Internet culture, an anti-establishment attitude and anime are at the core of the ever-evolving ZZXZ brand - Bubblegum Club

Internet culture, an anti-establishment attitude and anime are at the core of the ever-evolving ZZXZ brand

It is no secret that the world of fashion has a cyclical nature to it. Style and aesthetic are in a constant ebb and flow; simultaneously drawing from the past while pushing fashion to the future. Silhouettes widen just to slim down a couple of years later, and there is a constant back and forth between long and cropped fits.

In essence, most designs are timeless simply since these styles and aesthetics will find their way back into the collective fashion consciousness somewhere down the line. The cyclical nature of fashion is evident every day; just think about the triumphant return of the late 90s early 2000s aesthetics that have been the fashion staples for several years now.

One brand with its finger firmly on the pulse of the internet-age stylezeitgeist is ZZXZ, the hyper pop soaked brainchild of Zambian born designer Lizzy Marffy. Her garments are bold in their use of colour palettes and textures, all in an unrelenting grungy and edgy aesthetic.

Although ZZXZ is somewhat of a stylistic throwback, what stands out is that Marffy has put a contemporary twist to designs that would not look out of place in the madness we could see at the height of the late 90s rave aesthetic. At its core, ZZXZ is unapologetic, loud and in your face.

Photograph by Ryan Hing for Pap Magazine

Photograph by Ryan Hing for Pap Magazine

Whether it be impressionistic interpretations of anime characters painted or airbrushed onto bikini bottoms or hooped open-sided skirts, Marffy has found a way to really capture this stylistic language that is both nostalgic and forward-thinking.

It’s actually hard to nail down, a kaleidoscopic concoction of early 2000s rave, grunge and goth, androgynous yet femme fatale, Harajuku girl with a strong splash of contemporary club. A handmade, slow-fashion ode of sorts to the likes of MowalolaSita Abellán and UK rapper Deto Black, who she lists as significant sources of inspiration to the brand. She expands:

Photograph by Lydia Griplas

My brand is definitely drawn from multiple inspirations and influences from different eras. Since I began studying fashion, I always had an ‘anti-establishment’ attitude in my pieces, mainly because of coming from a small farm area. I tend to go through so many style swaps and phases in my life, and it is always expressed in the pieces I create. Last year I began watching anime and more than anything, I loved the visuals and bright colours.

I was painting a lot during lockdown and decided to integrate it into my pieces. I painted anime on mainly sweatpants/hoodies using an airbrush and fabric markers, always adding an on-brand ‘craziness’ to the anime. The people I am around also tend to have an influence on the aesthetic I experiment with, sometimes it is more baggy and androgynous or is contrasted by a femme and edgy approach.

Photograph by Ryan Hing for Pap Magazine

Photograph by Ryan Hing for Pap Magazine

As is the case with many designers, Marffy also looks to her surroundings for inspiration, pointing to the way in which different spaces and her experiences within these spaces spark creative exploration. As she expresses:

I am actually from a small tobacco farm in Zambia which is where my family lives, and I go back and forth. However, I have been in boarding school in SA since I was 11 years old, so SA has become home. I came to Athens last year because my best friend from 4 years old (also from Zambia) studies in Athens. It was meant to be a very temporary visit, but the people in Athens are so unique. They’re so friendly and welcoming, and the city was so arty and inspiring. 

Greek tradition in Athens is still so prominent, but there is a youth rebelliousness and alternative culture I hadn’t experienced anywhere else. The club scene and graffiti walls in Athens combined with inspiration from swimwear was a huge influence on my last collection. I think going back home to Zambia to a conservative community almost challenges me to portray more of a creative and rebellious aesthetic because I am less inspired, and have more time to let new ideas develop.

Photograph by Ryan Hing for Pap Magazine

Although the current look of ZZXZ is heavily tied to the 2000s aesthetic renaissance that permeates our online sphere, I think the brand’s continued success is pretty secure. Even if this style fades into the aether, ZZXZ has an ace up its sleeve, the continued evolution of its creator.

Adaptability is a crucial aspect of any brand’s continued success — and the aesthetics of ZZXZ are invariably linked to Marffy’s own hunger to always push her stylistic expression forward. Whether it be her venture into handbags or reworking deadstock sport shirts into swimwear, Marffy continues to create bespoke and eye-catching handmade gems with sustainability at their core.

Photograph by Ryan Hing for Pap Magazine

Photograph by Ryan Hing for Pap Magazine

Photograph by Ryan Hing for Pap Magazine

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