While most of us (if not all) collectively sighed during compulsory math classes, William Shen has bridged the divide between the analytical and the artistic, transforming numerical intricacies into a tangible expression known as Raxxy. Positioned as a luxury down jacket brand, Raxxy welcomes us to cocoon ourselves in the warm embrace of mathematical precision, futurism and the intricate beauty of traditional Chinese culture. Following his acclaim on the cover of Forbes for his radical innovations, Shen is now in discussion with METAL for an exclusive, in-depth conversation on his work.
Your journey from winning a silver medal in China’s Mathematical Olympiad, to pursuing studies in economics at university, and later taking a bold leap into the fashion industry is quite an unconventional sequence of choices. Could you share more about how your background led you to your current position?
This is a choice that follows my heart. My love and passion for fashion led me to enter the fashion industry combining my other hobby - mathematics. For me it is a combination of order and freedom. I think it will be a direction for future fashion development.
How do you balance the technical aspects of mathematics with the artistic freedom necessary for fashion design?
The skill of mathematics is mainly reflected in our craftsmanship, which represents the embodiment of order. It is also reflected in our overall control of aesthetics in our geometric artistic silhouettes. Regarding the balance of space and human body, the characterisation of overall silhouette and details, technical and artistic freedom, I think these are origin from innate expressions of my artistic energy.
This influence of mathematics is clear in both the structural design of your garments and in those that incorporate fractal geometry. The garments possess a sculptural quality that exude complexity yet maintain an inherent sense of simplicity. How do you strike a balance between intricate mathematical precision and simplicity in your creations? 
First of all, simplicity is just a style of fashion. Raxxy’s designs feature different kinds of craftsmanship. Theoretically speaking, when we use simple colours or make the sculpture mechanism larger or smaller, we could achieve a sense of simplicity. Of course, as a fashion brand, we also have plans to introduce traditional fashion in the future, or to combine it with our sculpture craftsmanship.
Your decision to internationally patent the 3D block-like structure down jackets underscores your unique approach to fashion design. In the context of today’s growing emphasis on sustainable practices in the fashion industry, do you believe sustainability is particularly pertinent in this innovation? Do you anticipate this technique having broader positive impacts on sustainability within the industry?
Yes , definitely. First of all, the modular design, replaceable modularity and our warranty policy allow our clothes to be repaired in case of partial damage to extend the use time. Secondly and most importantly, nowadays most people only focus on the sustainable development of raw materials and production in the fashion industry, but the sustainable development of fashion design is also very important. What causes the biggest waste in the fashion industry is actually the similarity of designs or malicious competition of the same designs. We hope to give some inspiration to the fashion industry, and to innovate from a new perspective, which can be the integration of different disciplines. This new system discovered by Raxxy can be parallel to knitted fashion, and can allow infinite fission in design in the future.
Raxxy designs are known for their blend of cold and warm textures, as well as the juxtaposition of vibrant colours and monochromatic pieces. Can you share the design process behind achieving this balance, especially in the context of winter wear? How does your choice of colours contribute to the overall narrative of your collections?
First of all, the overall colour setting is based on the creative needs of storytelling expressed in each season.  Raxxy is an international brand positioned in the down jacket category first and foremost. Taking into account the different colour demands for down jackets around the world, we make some adjustments in colour according to the range. Of course, such choices will be made carefully. We are not a brand that uses colour as the only design clue, because Raxxy’s creations are three-dimensional sculptures, and the theme expressed by this sculptural structure is also an important clue for us.
The combination of jacket cutting and traditional paper cutting in your designs implies a really delicate balance between deconstruction and creation. What inspired this unique fusion of techniques?
My first down jacket was made by my mum when I was a child. I like it so much cause it is very warm. But the first day when I wore it, it was poked by a sharp nail and left a big hole. I was extremely sad at the time. Therefore, I have always been very afraid of coming into contact with sharp objects while wearing down jackets. When we built the brand Raxxy , we wanted to make real innovations, so we started with the thing I was most afraid of, using scissors to cut the down jacket. From destroying a down jacket, my thoughts continued to evolve, and then I discovered another kind of aesthetics. That is my innate aestheticism.
What impelled you to design dresses, hats and sweaters, all in the signature dismantled duvet style, even though some may consider them unwearable? How do you respond to critics of this unconventional approach?
Just like our view of the category of knitted sweater, because of its soft properties, we always used it as underwear, and after long time since its invention, the fashionable knitted jackets were made. What Raxxy is doing is a new system in the fashion industry, a brand based on 3D transformation. Down is one of its carriers and is not limited to down jackets. From the beginning of the establishment of the Raxxy brand, we have thought about breaking through the use of down in traditional down jackets, not only in terms of thermal insulation, but also in the direction of shaping sculptures. Put aside the stereotypes about down jackets, this is the new fashion world.
Within the union of fashion, mathematics and fractal geometry, you found space to include your traditional Chinese culture. How do these varied influences cohere in your creations?
I have been always trying to apply new fashion techniques to express traditional Chinese culture. These technologies come from innovative thinking and the continuos research of Chinese culture . The technical support is mathematical ways of thinking. With the help of this new technology, I discovered a new realm of fashion and its aesthetic style. Fusing all these together, it is a novelty which requires a strong multi-dimensional control over fashion itself, which is also art. 
You have developed an innovative approach to fashion weaving, drawing inspiration from traditional Chinese braiding techniques. Can you share how this technique has influenced the visual aspects of your designs and also the tactile experience for the wearers?
First of all, strictly speaking, this technique is not weaving, but a visual imitation. To be precise, it should be called 3D transformation technology. When people came into contact with Raxxy's clothes for the first time, they all felt that they were a bit avant-garde. They couldn't tell whether it was a style or a new category, but everyone was sure that it belonged to the future. Therefore we also define ourselves as futuristic aesthetic style. When they see our clothes, everyone wants to touch them and is always full of curiosity. The different outer fabrics also make the whole clothes full of visual deception,  which looks like metal, plastic, or other kinds of materials. This is very interesting. When you really touch it, you will be surprised. It is so soft and elastic. This contrast will surprise whom wears it.
The graphic technique of colour sculpture that you introduced adds a multidimensional aspect to your designs - the play of light and shadow on the textured surfaces of your garments enhance the overall visual experience and it feels as though they contribute to the storytelling aspect of your collections. I’m curious, was this intentional, or did it evolve organically in your creative process?
When people create knitted sweaters, they are also very different from the development of traditional woven fashion. That is even more true for the new reform fashion interface. Our new collection is expressed in multiple dimensions, not limited to traditional expressions of traditional fashion.
You developed a colour sculpture technique that blends traditional Chinese artistry with contemporary fashion. Seeing the cultural significance of your inspiration, this technique links the rich heritage of Chinese culture with the modern global fashion scene. How do you think the fashion industry as a whole can benefit from a greater application and incorporation of diverse cultural influences?
I think a global brand needs to be inclusive of global cultures. Our inheritance of traditional culture should not just stop at the level of patterns and traditional techniques. We need to think more about the true innovation, perception, and pursuit of greatness hidden behind Chinese traditional culture and technology. The spirit of craftsmanship in art.
Your collaborations with luxury European brands recognise Raxxy’s unique approach. From your perspective, do you think your fusing of mathematics and fashion enhances the luxury aspect of your designs, and what challenges have you faced in assimilating these worlds?
For our goal of establishing a new luxury brand in the future, I think these techniques and processes should have achieved the goal. Everyone should be able to feel the new fashion aesthetics, and at the same time, we can also feel our pursuit of fashion art and the value of traditional hand craftsmanship. The challenge is that as a local Chinese brand, the high cost of clothes corresponds to a very high retail price, which makes it very difficult to deal with sales channels. Fortunately, everything is slowly changing, and more and more people are seeing us and showing great interest.
Your clothing radiates complexity and a potent blend of boldness. How do you envision the wearer feeling when they don your designs?
We have tried wearing Raxxy’s clothes while walking in the streets in Europe. Almost everyone shows us compliments. It felt a little bit unreal. This is a design that the public has never seen before, and they don’t know how it is made or what material it is made of. But everyone generally thinks that this is a new kind of beauty. I think they should be very excited and happy after wearing it. 
Congratulations on being featured in Forbes! It is a significant achievement that highlights your impact on the fashion industry. How do you plan to build upon this recognition in your future projects and collections?
We plan to launch our haute couture collection during Paris Haute Couture Week. Let everyone take a look at this new fashion system, new fashion technology and new ultimate aesthetics. At the same time, we will also work closely with our European partners to cooperate with the release of ready-to-wear collections so that more people can see , come into contact with, and wear Raxxy.