April 10, 2017, Shanghai, China - Damir Doma show at Shanghai Fashion Week.

SHANGHAIDamir Doma presented what he described as an “evolution” of his coed fall 2017 collection here Monday evening.

Invited as part of the Shanghai International Fashion Showcase, Doma showed looks from the collection he first presented in Milan in January to an audience of 400 at the Shanghai Exhibition Center in the major shopping hub of West Nanjing Road.

Not wanting to simply rehash the first show in China with a Chinese cast of models, Doma added a dozen pieces with new colors and washes to the earth-toned collection of draped velvet, distressed knits, wide-leg trousers and soft-shouldered outerwear.

“Shanghai is not representative of the rest of China; it’s a very special place, but I think we should be in China more often. We need to tie bonds a bit tighter with people here. I think there are not so many opportunities in the world of fashion today, it’s a kind of complicated period,” Doma said in an interview prior to the show.

“There is the online business in general, but in terms of territory, there is no bigger opportunity than here.”

Known for pioneering the increasingly popular practice of combining men’s and women’s shows, Doma, who celebrates the 10th anniversary of his brand this year, has also helped along the trend for unisex dressing, which is becoming increasingly normalized globally – and perhaps even more popular in Asia, where body types lend themselves to more androgynous fashion.

As Doma explained it, unisex was never necessarily the focus; it was more a case of borrowing from women’s wear for his men’s collections and these garments also appealing to women that led to increased collaboration between his men’s wear and women’s wear lines.

“When I started designing men’s wear, I was very women’s-wear inspired; that’s why my silhouettes were softer, somewhat draped. At that moment, 10 years ago, people were searching for a new silhouette and I think that’s why I am still here, because I was able to do something at that time that other people weren’t doing,” he said.

“In women’s wear, men’s tailoring is very strong at the moment. And, on the contrary, men have started to be a bit more relaxed about the idea about going both directions, not to say that men should be super feminine, but there are concepts in women’s wear that are interesting for men’s wear.”

Asked whether China’s increasingly sophisticated consumer base is ready to embrace this sense of gender fluidity, Doma is confident that it can and will, proclaiming Shanghai’s streetwear some of the most forward-thinking in the world right now.

A growing number of multibrand stores around the country are simultaneously offering a variety of aesthetics to cater to just about every niche imaginable, a huge plus for a smaller independent brand, such as Damir Doma, looking to widen its footprint in the China market.

“I suggest to buyers from around the world that they should come here. I find the buying here quite brave. It’s like Tokyo was 10 years ago, but now Tokyo is also quite conservative; the guys are still into this prep wear and the girls are more into big brands. When you come here there is quite a lot of brave buying and brave dressing,” Doma said, adding he is conscious of his own need to spend more time on the ground in China in order to cement and grow his relationship with local consumers.

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