As she partners with Bicester Village to curate a new pop-up celebrating Chinese style, Susie Lau tells us how the fashion industry is moving away from simply celebrating “home-grown” talent, and why Chinese designers are a force to be reckoned with.
The landscape of Chinese fashion is vastly more prominent than it was 10 years ago
You are seeing the outcome of the rise in Chinese students graduating from globally renowned fashion schools (CSM, Parsons etc) and setting up their own brands, and currently showcasing at the major fashion capitals – Paris, New York and London – as well as growing an audience back in China. My visits to Shanghai Fashion Week recently have really opened my eyes to what is happening. The aesthetics have changed dramatically and have become really diverse, and there is a real sense of idiosyncratic identity in what they do. So, yes it is having a moment, especially considering new initiatives like Business of Fashion’s China Prize (similar to the LVMH prize launching at Shanghai fashion week in March 2019) and the growing prominence of Shanghai Fashion Week.
Chinese fashion now reaches a global audience
… particularly if you look at brands like Huishan Zhang who has a loyal Middle East clientele or Yang Li, who has esteemed stockists like Selfridges and SSense. But in China there is also now a much savvier customer that wants to discover new designers, particularly Chinese authored fashion. The appetite exists there now, especially with the growing number of boutiques that have sprung up all over China.
It enables us to celebrate Chinese culture in new ways
What’s unique is that finally we are seeing designers bring a nuanced and intelligent take on Chinese culture through their work. I don’t mean the aesthetics are ostensibly “Chinese” looking but that there is now a great Chinese talent pool of photographers, stylists and creatives who work together with the designers to create evocative imagery, and the clothes themselves also often draw from aspects of Chinese culture that we haven’t seen before.
The industry is expanding out from the four traditional cities
I think the focus in the West is often on designers who are “home-grown” and there perhaps has been a bias on designers with the right connections and routes into the industry making it more challenging for Chinese designers to break through. But that is changing, particularly with initiatives like the ‘Celebrating China’ Bicester Village pop-up and also the hunger from international press and buyers to discover something new.
Bicester Village has an incredibly large footfall of discerning customers eager to discover new designers. The pop-up is a surprising presence in the village and is really a place where everyone (not just Chinese customers) can find something new and be receptive to it. I truly believe in the axis of fashion moving outwards from the four traditional fashion capitals.
Look out for more from Shanghai Fashion Week
I would love for Shanghai Fashion Week to gain greater prominence on the international circuit, which is already happening, and for the designers to be recognised for their depth of talent. It’s already in the works!
The Celebrating China pop-up at Bicester Village will run until 17 February 2019.
From: Harper’s BAZAAR UK