THETHING, Streetwear From China

The Shanghai-based brand that pioneered T-shirt culture a decade ago now offers a full line of attire and accessories for men and women

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It may be hard to believe, but until around 10 years ago “streetwear” was a rather esoteric word in China, and city kid fashion was limited to a few Western brands known only to those who had the chance to travel abroad. The post ’80s generation was the first to have an eye for aesthetics that transcended the diktats of status, valuing the playful personality and a carefree nature of street style. At the same time, the so-called “jelly generation”—a new breed of young artists—were finding inspiration in childhood imagery, with nostalgic themes permeating many creative scenes.

It was also at this time that THETHING was founded by Zheng Yi and Zheng Zhu, two young brothers and designers based in Shanghai. True pioneers of T-shirt culture in China, they launched collaborations with artists, graffiti writers, musicians and painters, putting the brand at the epicenter of an emerging fashion scene. Their goal at the time was to create a label that would allow people to “express individual beauty and personality, and celebrate a free and funny lifestyle,” the Zheng brothers tell CH.

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After a decade, THETHING has grown; it now offers a full line of attire, bags and accessories for men and women that’s a mix of street style and clean-cut garments with eccentric details and captivating graphics. Since 2013, with the collection “GO OUT by THETHING,” the concept moved from an exclusively urban lifestyle to an exploration of outdoor life as a new horizon of imagination.

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In this very same adventurous spirit, the latest AW ’14 collection was inspired by a trip to Central Anatolia. THETHING traveled to Cappadocia, “home of the fairyland sights of Pasabag Valley, where traces of the Persian empire mix with rich religious traditions, and images from the breathtaking sites where Star Wars was shot.” The azure skies of the day and the deep blue of the nights blend with a range of color native to the arid land, with many of the brand’s attire enriched with embroideries of elements like chimney rocks, pomegranate flowers and scimitars.

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From initial exploration of the simple T-shirt to launching a full-blown fashion label that continues to evolve in aesthetic and function, THETHING has moved from a simple store with niche appeal to a highly sought-after street style brand—now with with 23 outlets in 14 cities across China, from Shanghai to Haerbing to Guangzhou. Visit THETHING online for locations.

Images courtesy of THETHING