Finale of a show during China Fashion Week

BEIJING — The latest edition of China Fashion Week, the oldest fashion week in the country, will be held in Beijing starting today to Nov. 2.

This will mark the first season after the China Fashion Association, the organizer of China Fashion Week, formed a strategic partnership with WWD’s China edition. A series of industry panel discussions — with topics including influencers, innovation, Gen Z, retail, technology, entertainment and sustainability — and an exhibition titled “Heavenly Embroidery Art Exhibition” will be held during the week as a part of the partnership.

Rosalie Huang, curator of the exhibition and chief creative officer of WWD China, said the exhibition will showcase embroidery craftsmanship from around the world, and feature 36 embroidery pieces from seven mainstream Chinese fashion designers, including Grace Chen, Laurence Xu, Lanyu, Zhifeng Zhang, Liuchao, Xiu and Maxi Ma. Seven leading Chinese celebrities — Jane Zhang, Chengcheng Fan, Weizhou Xu, Tianai Zhang, Zuer Song and Jike Junyi — will wear these designs and promote them via social media.

“I also prepared 500,000 meters of silk threads and dyed them into 50 different colors, and the combination of different colors will be an amazing visual effect for the exhibition. I believe it will become an Instagrammable sensation,” she added.

Qinghui Zhang, chairman of China Fashion Association, said: “Through our partnership with WWD China, China Fashion Week will be able to obtain a more global appeal, and hopefully we can open up a dialogue between East and West.”

The partnership comes at a time when China’s fashion system, as a whole, is undergoing rapid expansion, and China Fashion Week aims to reposition itself as a leader in the process.

Qinghui Zhang  Courtesy Photo

Established in 1997, China Fashion Week was conceived at a time when its fashion industry was at a very fragile stage. “It was just getting started, but today, fashion has become one of China’s most lively industries, and fashion designer has truly become a recognized profession in the society,” Zhang said.

According to Zhang, 2008 was a turning point. “Before that, China’s Fashion Week was more local. From 2008 till now, China’s entered a new phase, one that is represented by the explosion of young and independent designers. At the same time, traditional brands are transforming themselves to meet the demand of the fast-changing Chinese consumers.”

Zhang wants to showcase the best of both sides in Beijing. “Chinese fashion as a whole is very diverse. We need to support those local big and famous brands, and at the same time, we are very interested in helping young designers,” he said.

He admires Shanghai Fashion Week’s rapid development in recent years, and he believes Beijing can be an equally good platform for young designers to grow their business. “This generation of independent designers represents the future of Chinese fashion,” he said.

But their livelihoods aren’t very optimistic, Zhang observed. “This is the group that needs the most help, and we hope to bring in more resources to support them. Now, they still have a very long way to go, and only paying attention to independent designers won’t reflect the development of the Chinese fashion industry as a whole,” Zhang said.

He admits that there are only a few names on the calendar that people outside China would recognize at the moment, but it doesn’t mean what’s showing is not important. “China is big, and those names may not be well known, but they have a super successful business.

Finale of a show during China Fashion Week

Finale of a show during China Fashion Week.  Courtesy Photo

“One prime example is this brand called Black Cat & White Cat by Xiaochun Gao. They presented at China Fashion Week for the first time last year, and this year we asked them how their business is doing. They said the brand achieved almost a half-billion renminbi in sales. This is something that no independent designers have been able to achieve,” Zhang said. “Many of the designers that have showcased in China Fashion Week are all this type of designer.”

Key brands to watch during the week also include Ne-Tiger, Uooyaa, Gioia Pan, Yaying, Bailuyu by Wenjie Fu, Jefen, M13 by Zhaoda Zhang and Yutao Wang. China Fashion Week also highlights brands from cities such as Dalian, Shenzhen and Hangzhou as well as Beijing.

“In the next five to 10 years, the Chinese fashion industry will definitely be the most important one in the entire world. China is almost as big as the European continent. While they have Milan, Paris, London and also Copenhagen fashion weeks, China will also inevitably have multiple fashion weeks,” Zhang predicted.

“For China Fashion Week, because it takes place in the capital, perhaps there’ll be a bigger emphasis on the cultural aspect of fashion. In terms of creating a dialogue between the East and the West and it will have a huge influence over China’s fashion culture or fashion trends,” he continued.

“China Fashion Week will also grow its trade business. We have already starting to do more trade business, and in the future, the commercial transaction function of China Fashion Week will be increasingly important, too. We will expand our capacity to support these independent designers and let them bring more excitement and global relevance to our calendar,” he said.

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