SHANGHAI — There are still opportunities for international brands in the Chinese market.

That’s the message from CHIC Shanghai organizers, who are looking ahead to the next iteration of the huge fashion fair, which will be held here from March 16 to 18.

Key to these opportunities are China’s increasingly urban, increasingly wealthy middle class. According to research released in October from Credit Suisse, China’s middle class this year expanded to 109 million people, a growth of 43.4 million middle-class adults since 2000.

“Please let me underline that China may not be the best market for luxury products now, but the country enjoys a very wealthy and fast-growing middle class. The middle class does not buy at any price; they are selective and look for good quality at the best prices. This is the chance for international, high-quality brands that want to expand in China,” said Chen Dapeng, executive vice president of the China National Garment Association.

New to CHIC in 2016 will be cooperation with the Chinese Shoe Association’s KaiShi Exhibition. As the Chinese retail market demands increasing diversity in product ranges, Chen said it made sense to include shoes, bags and accessories alongside ready-to-wear exhibits.

Also new to the spring edition will be an increased focus on its ability to act as a communication platform for the industry, with more seminars and conferences to run as part of the fair.

“CHIC is making its role as fashion mediator stronger than before. The structure of the fashion business is undergoing rapid change and CHIC is concentrating a part of its fair to new technology and new economic systems,” Chen explained.

“We want to contribute to more know-how and thus be a platform for sharing, collecting, obtaining and releasing opinions and information on latest developments in the fashion sector.”

The spring fair, which will run in conjunction with the Intertextile apparel fabric fair at Shanghai’s National Exhibition and Convention Center, will boast about 1.15 million square feet of space and feature 1,200 brands from around the world, including national pavilions from France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Brazil, Peru, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan.

Last year, exhibitors from Europe and Japan both proved popular with Chinese visitors, who were keen to make the most of the yuan’s strong position compared with the euro and yen.

This time, organizers are anticipating more than 120,000 visitors over the three-day fair, up from 55,000 at CHIC’s autumn edition, held in October.

“It is unique worldwide that such a fashion event represents the whole chain of fashion from buying, selling and sourcing,” Chen said. “This is a chance to concentrate the whole fashion sector. Intertextile and CHIC together will cover 300,000 square meters [or 3.23 million square feet]. It is a wonderful possibility to collect all information for the relevant season.”

This will be the second year the fashion trade show is held in Shanghai, after relocating in 2015 from its long-term home in Beijing.

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