SHANGHAI — Shanghai Fashion Week wrapped up last week with a reshowing of Danish designer Astrid Andersen’s fall collection, after eight days of runway shows and, for the first time in SFW history, a serious commercial element.
The change in this fashion week from only two years ago was inescapable to returning visitors and brands, with more buyers in attendance, a more consistent lineup of independent Chinese designers showing and an official fashion week showroom, Mode Shanghai, running in conjunction with SFW for the first time.
“Mode Shanghai received positive feedback from buyers, media and other people in the industry, which provides us more confidence. Under this atmosphere, Shanghai Fashion Week is aiming to be not only a platform to showcase the best original design collections, but also a platform to serve the ecosystem of fashion in China,” a spokesman for the Shanghai Fashion Week organizing committee said.
International buyers from stores such as H. Lorenzo in Los Angeles were in attendance at Mode Shanghai, but it was the new, fast-growing sector of independent multibrand stores in first- and second-tier Chinese cities that was driving commerce at the showrooms, where more than 200 brands from China and overseas — including reasonably high-profile local firms such as Helen Lee and Yirantian — were on show to prospective customers.
Joshua Cohen, the creative director of new, Hong Kong-based shoe brand Node, was in Shanghai to check out the Chinese market and was pleasantly surprised by the number of serious buyers from local independent multibrand stores.
“We are finding these Chinese-owned, independent retailers that are buying Chinese brands, expensive clothes, young owners with exceptional taste, and they are receptive to our shoes. There is a lot of buzz. We are seeing buyers from Shanghai, Wuxi, Wenzhou, all over the place,” he said.
“We were thinking we would have to take our brand to Europe or the U.S. [to find a market], but now we’ve canceled those ideas, or put them on hold and decided to see what we can do here first,” he added.
Back in the tents at Shanghai’s high-end shopping and entertainment destination Xintiandi, a predominantly homegrown — though often internationally educated — selection of designers showed their fall 2015 collections.
A cool urbanism ran through collections from highly regarded up-and-comers, such as C.J. Yao and Fake Natoo, while youngsters from southern China — Dido Liu for Deepmoss and Ban Xiao Xue for his namesake brand — added a more avant-garde feel to proceedings.
Established designers, such as Lu Kun for Mikumkum and Helen Lee for Insh, did what they do best: bring a very wearable femininity to the arenas of evening dress and street style, respectively.
“Ten years ago, Shanghai Fashion Week wasn’t that important, but now we cannot ignore its power. Now it’s not just a showcase, it actually performs the function of a fashion week, attracting buyers and potential clients. If you aren’t qualified, you won’t win the battle for the fashion business,” Kun said.
Interesting textures, layering and draping in fabrics from silk to velvet and Tibetan yak wool proved popular. Silhouettes were less exaggerated than last year, though many of the young designers still showed a penchant for louche shapes that suit the figure of many Asian consumers so well.
Colors were decidedly autumnal, with forest green and burgundy in abundance, alongside plenty of black, gray and navy.
Less visible during this iteration of SFW were international designers, who pulled a lot of attention from the main event last spring as part of the concurrently running Shanghai International Fashion Showcase. That event was still held, but was decidedly lower key, featuring shows at Nanjing Road’s Shanghai Exhibition Center from Italian brands Diesel, Blumarine and Blugirl.
Showing on the SFW main schedule was the first graduating class from Istituto Marangoni’s Shanghai satellite, which opened in 2013. Their lineup of 16 young Chinese graduates was an exciting glimpse into the future of local design.
Istituto Marangoni group managing director Roberto Riccio was in Shanghai for the show and spoke to WWD about their reasons for setting up a campus in Shanghai — their fourth in the world after Milan, Paris and London. “I think that Shanghai is the fifth fashion capital in the world at the moment. Some people say that for fashion there is China and everywhere else, and I totally agree with that, particularly from a business perspective,” he said. “Shanghai is very vibrant, very European, very international, there is a similarity in the way people perceive fashion.”
A noticeable new confidence permeated this edition of SFW, with organizers confident Shanghai is ready to take its place as China’s — and Asia’s — fashion capital.
“In the future, SFW will be committed to bringing the very best collections of Chinese and Asian designers and establishing an important trade platform for all international buyers,” the SFW spokesman said. “Of course, SFW will also bring the city of Shanghai something special.”