LONDON — Chinese fashion e-commerce site VIP.com is serving up a taste of Chinese fashion and C-pop — Chinese pop music — with the launch of a multibrand runway presentation on Sept. 13 that will kickstart London Fashion Week, which runs from Sept. 14 to 18. Held in partnership with the British Fashion Council, the show will spotlight four designers: A Life on The Left, Bailuyu, Kisscat and Mukzin.
VIP.com is the BFC’s first Chinese sponsor and works with more than 20,000 global brands. It has 300 million consumers of which 52 percent are interested in designer brands, offering a huge opportunity to the British market.
“Given the spirit of their growth and the profile of VIP.com, it’s a great opportunity to show Chinese talent at London Fashion Week as well as a way to educate the British Fashion Council on Chinese-specific platforms such as WeChat,” said Caroline Rush, chief executive officer of British Fashion Council. She said the BFC will soft launch its WeChat account shortly after the show and will spend the first six months training with Global Blue and Tencent about using the social media platform.
While British brands such as Aspinal of London and House of Holland, who are already working with the Chinese platform, will benefit from the exposure, Chinese brands are also hoping to tap into the competitive British market and change the way consumers view “Made in China” garments.
“The younger generation of Chinese people have their own understanding of fashion and are eager to use fashion as a means of self-expression. For so long Chinese fashion has been misunderstood and misinterpreted by a lot of brands,” said Tony Feng, head of marketing at VIP.com, in an interview. He cited all the poor representations of Chinese-inspired fashion he has seen, noting the overuse of dragon embroideries and Chinese characters.
According to Feng, the four brands that were selected all had to fit the show’s C-pop theme. “There was J-pop, K-pop and now we want to introduce and show the world what C-pop is,” he said. For VIP.com, C-pop is a celebration of traditional Chinese culture and skills with a modern twist.
Muzkin’s designs are inspired by traditional Chinese medicine, while heritage shoe brand Kisscat, which is trying to rejuvenate its image, is taking inspiration from Monkey King, the main character of the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West.
A Life on the Left, famous for its embroidery, is modernizing the traditional horse-faced skirt that was commonly worn in the Qing dynasty. The fourth label, Bailuyu, is a direct-to-consumer and bespoke label, and reinterprets traditional logos on its garments.
Interviews will be conducted with the designers and will be live-streamed — along with the shows — on VIP.com. “This will give them a lot of support in terms of traffic and increase their exposure as well as giving them a taste of London,” said Susan Sun, head of merchandising at VIP.com. Pieces will be available to purchase immediately after the show exclusively on the site.
While VIP.com is providing the four brands support in the Chinese market, there are no immediate systems in place to help them grow in Britain aside from the exposure from the presentations. Rush said the BFC is still talking about “how the partnership will evolve and what it will look like over the course of the next 12 months.”
VIP.com would like to take the British brands home. “Our London team is working to bring different brands to China and planning to create a lot of ‘themed’ days, such as a British Day to introduce these labels and offer promotions,” added Feng, who is also hoping to explore the beauty and lifestyle sector in the near future.