SHANGHAI — Sixteen designers were announced as finalists for the inaugural Yu Prize, a competition to nurture emerging Chinese fashion talent that grants the winner a cash prize of 1 million renminbi or $155,000.
At-one-ment, Chen Peng, Danshan, Donsee10, 8on8, Garçon by Gçogcn, Oude Waag, Ming Ma, Redemptive, Shie Lyu, Shushu/Tong, Shuting Qiu, Susan Fang, Yueqi Qi, Windowsen, ZI II CII EN made the penultimate cut out of nearly 100 applications. The winner will be announced in April during Shanghai Fashion Week.
Yu, best known as the fashion investor behind ventures including Mary Katrantzou, ASAP 54 and Cefinn and more recently as the founder of luxury beauty line, Yumee, launched the award last October.
“I really want to discover the fashion icon of tomorrow,” said Yu, who shared that the judging committee had to sift through nearly 1,000 pages of PowerPoint. “So I think creativity and originality are important, but also to have a balance between business and creativity in that I could see the link, the vision, that the designer has for the brand. I want to discover the Alexander McQueen of tomorrow or the John Galliano of tomorrow.”
She added, “We were really glad because they are the best of the best of the younger generation designers. Some of them are quite established like Ming Ma, Shuting Qiu, Susan Fang and Wanbing Huang but they are still passionate about applying to our award.”
In addition to the prize money, the winner will receive a number of benefits. It includes a showcase at Sphere Showroom at Paris Fashion Week and a celebratory event cohosted by the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode and Wendy Yu, a showcase at Shanghai Fashion Week, mentoring for 12 months by international industry experts, with a special focus on sustainability, business incubation at Yu Holdings, and retailing at Harrods.
The vetting process was conducted by Yu Holdings, in conjunction with the Yu Prize committee including Madame Lu, the vice secretary general of Shanghai Fashion Week, Pascal Morand, the executive president of the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, and Sara Maino, deputy director of Vogue Italia and head of Vogue Talents, and Michael Ward, managing director of Harrods.
“The quality of the shortlist for this year’s Yu Prize was incredibly high, with the designers each showing creativity in abundance,” Ward said. “As well as evaluating the semifinalists originality and innovation, we specifically looked for designers who showed consideration for the commercials behind their business, as well as a real understanding of their customer. We have seen a seismic shift toward incorporating sustainability in to fashion and design throughout China recently, and this was also something we looked for throughout the judging process.”