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16 Oct

Shanghai Designers Tackle Difficult Market With Creative Drive

Shanghai Designers Tackle Difficult Market With Creative Drive

SHANGHAI — Local designers need to stay positive and look for brand spanking new opportunities amid China‘s economic slowdown.

The spring 2024 edition of Shanghai Fashion Week wrapped Monday, with greater than 100 brands showcasing their latest collections to local buyers.

The final consensus amongst buyers WWD spoke to is that they’re scaling back budgets and tightening brand lists this season as Chinese fashion consumers have been spending less.

That said, a decade after the Chinese designer fashion boom — and having survived the COVID-19 pandemic — local brands are prepared to embrace a tougher market environment with greater shows, stronger brand narratives, more diverse price and product ranges, and more collaborations to succeed in latest audiences.

Comme Moi, a fashion label founded by model Lu Yan and backed by the Shanghai-based manufacturing giant Chenfeng Group, celebrated its tenth anniversary with a serious production by the Huangpu River with greater than 1,000 guests earlier within the week.

Lu offered an elevated day and night wardrobe with sparkly evening gowns made with fringed jacquard and crocheted mesh in black and white, luxurious leather and fur-clad ensembles, and sleek suiting for Shanghai’s multinational urban elites.

“The gathering draws inspiration from the Nineteen Nineties, a time when styles were still being developed in China. I then took the present fashion context as a start line, and incorporated the sparkly elements for the brand’s tenth anniversary. You furthermore may see an even bigger give attention to eveningwear. These bespoke pieces are only available to our super VIPs,” Lu said backstage.

The looks were shown on an ideal lineup of veteran Chinese models who used to work alongside Lu from 20 years ago. The show generated considerable buzz on social media, as among the models like Qu Ying and Wang Shiqing were recently featured on popular reality TV shows. Major stars like Deng Chao, Elaine Zhong and Hu Bing attended the event as well.

“I even have been fascinated by this concept for just a few years. For this special day, I finally called every certainly one of my friends and asked them to come back and walk within the show. I’m so thankful that my friends were so supportive,” added Lu.

Looks designed by Pronounce for Clot.

Courtesy of Clot

Edison Chen also took to Shanghai to fete the twentieth anniversary of his fashion label Clot. Chen enlisted greater than 14 Chinese designer and global fashion brands, including Pronounce, Staffonly, Caroline Hu, Yue Qiqi, Sankuanz, Lu’u Dan, Alyx and Tommy Hilfiger to interpret the brand’s striking logo and its Alienegra motifs.

The revealing of Chen’s highly anticipated Adidas Originals collaboration also occurred on the show. Chinese straw-shoe Sambas and quiet luxury-adjacent athleisure wear made for a clever first collection.

Clot collaboration with Adidas Originals

Clot collaboration with Adidas Originals.

Courtesy of Clot

Chen unveiled that the collaboration with Adidas will go further than simply designing clothes. Chen said his team will work with Adidas’ Innovation Lab based in Shanghai on future projects that help the German sportswear giant connect with the local talent pool.

“I feel the following 20 years of our journey goes to be kind of like Edison, and hopefully, we discover five or eight guys that may come and represent us,” explained Chen after the show. “Tomorrow, we’re actually starting a talent search with Adidas called Earn Your Stripes. If it’s an artist, we’ll hold an art exhibition for them. If it’s a photographer, we could have them shoot all our Adidas x Clot look books.”

Backstage at Icicle RTW Spring 2024

Backstage at Icicle, spring 2024.


Chinese fashion label Icicle this season made its Shanghai Fashion Week debut 26 years after the brand was founded. It offered a simplistic and pragmatic collection featuring a silk dress inspired by a kite, with strings and side panels that give the impression that it flies when one walks, a transparent trench that’s light as a cloud, and an asymmetric buttoned light silk suit realized in the colour of summer dusk.

Bénédicte Laloux, creative director at Icicle, said the gathering is inspired by the sky of spring and summer times. “That over-arching expanse of life-giving air offers us the possibility to riff on the notes which make Icicle clothes so well adapted to summer dressing,” she added.

Her favorite pieces in the gathering included the tailored white wool twill jacket with the hemp wide pants and organza shell on the opening and the orange jacket and gilet with the linen jeans at the tip of the show.

Looks from Shushu/Tong's spring 2024 collection

Looks from Shushu/Tong’s spring 2024 collection.

Courtesy of Shushu/Tong

For its spring 2024 collection, the sweet school girl at Shushu/Tong has grown right into a graceful and sexy young adult. Inspired by Helmut Newton’s photo series “Big Nude,” the creative duo Lei Liushu and Yutong Jiang, who’re behind the hyped label, explored the usage of lace to sculpt a budding female heroine.

Along with spiky collars, the brand’s classic bow elements and intricately embroidered flowers that graced skin-baring skirt sets created a fluid shift between materials and structures. Yet the sensuality of the label managed to remain sweet and modest. Being a doll is every Shushu/Tong girl’s dream.

The Pocket Bow handbag, updated with a sleek handle and oversized butterfly bow decoration, together with eyewear adorned with pearls and bling, accomplished the portrait of a Shushu/Tong fair lady.

Xu Zhi's spring 2024 collection

Xu Zhi’s spring 2024 collection.

Courtsesy of Xu Zhi

Elegance rooted within the teachings of ying-yang and Daoism informed Xu Zhi’s latest collection. Known for his fringy gowns, he reinterpreted them with ostrich feathers poking out in probably the most joyous fashion. At the identical time, the sequined shirtings for men and beaded miniskirts are next season’s must-haves.

“All of the sequins, fringes, feathers, sequins and metallic beading were mixed together as a way for me to specific how I feel the energies flow,” explained the designer Xuzhi Chen.

Oude Waag's spring 2024 collection

Oude Waag’s spring 2024 collection.

Courtesy of Oude Waag

This season, Oude Waag, the style label founded by Royal College of Art alum Jingwei Yin, was inspired by the culture of Ama, the Japanese female divers who make a living by harvesting abalones and pearls. He translated the strength of the feminine spirit and the strong community formed by these divers, who would work topless back within the day, right into a sultry yet elevated collection.

Yin’s favorites in the gathering included the draped tailored jacket that resembled the natural shape of an abalone shell, in addition to a series of intricately draped dresses constructed with fabrics connected with a string of fastening stoppers across the neck as in the event that they were real pearls.

The label comes with a higher-than-usual price point amongst local designers. This season, in light of the market slowdown, he offered several pieces in a more cost-effective range, similar to graphic swimsuits. At the identical time, he increased the worth of its showpiece to satisfy the demand of those that are searching for a one-of-kind showstopper with little concern for budget.

Looks from Louis Shengtao Chen's spring 2024 collection

Looks from Louis Shengtao Chen’s spring 2024 collection.

Courtesy of Louis Shengtao Chen

Louis Shengtao Chen, a semifinalist for this 12 months’s LVMH Prize, presented his spring 2024 collection on the historic Joint Savings Bank Warehouse overlooking the Bund.

Titled “Orgasmic,” Chen said the gathering geared toward exploring the sensation of an orgasm beyond sexual pleasure. It featured slipdresses in crinkled fabric, sequined dresses with excessive Swarovski crystal boning, a cupcake dress with a face printed throughout, mesh tops with raindrop metallic studs, and shoulder bags made with premium leather.

“It’s something walking along the lines between self-awareness and self-progression, in realizing one’s growth and evolution. The movie ‘Silence of the Lambs’ gives great inspiration for this season, being questioned about your identity and carrying on with a positive and negative self-reflection on a regular basis, and just be who you might be,” he said backstage.

Looks from Mark Gong's spring 2024 collection

Looks from Mark Gong’s spring 2024 collection.

Courtesy of Mark Gong

Parsons alum Mark Gong, for spring 2024, reinterpreted office attire with Samantha Jones from “Sex and the City” in mind.

The designer said he first watched the series on the age of 11, and the scene from the primary movie where Jones lost the bidding to her boyfriend on the auction over a diamond gardenia ring was particularly fundamental within the formation of the spring 2024 collection.

“Her true desire was to attain the notion that a girl can purchase jewelry for herself through her own efforts,” noted Gong.

“My personal favorite is the look three,” said Gong. “The tray of coffee, the dry-cleaning pickup she’s holding in her hands, I would like this girl to appear like she is in a rush to get back to her boss, despite a hangover after a giant party last night. It’s very casual and that’s why I prefer it.”

Standouts included sheer LBDs, cozy knits with ripped fringes, a red sequined minidress, a ripped denim ensemble with metal chain detail, tailored jackets, and pencil skirts with the monogram of the letter M, all paired with seductive stockings, and fashion jewelry made in collaboration with the accessory brand Empress 47.

Looks from Jacques Wei spring 2024

Looks from Jacques Wei spring 2024.

Courtesy of Jacques Wei

The Shanghai-based designer Jacques Wei took over a warehouse conversion in front of a pond contained in the Garden of the Sheng family behind the tree-lined Hengshan Road, where Hermès recently hosted an event, to present his spring 2024 collection. The situation is the previous residence of Sheng Xuanhuai, a Qing dynasty Chinese tycoon, politician and educator.

“I wanted to indicate something very brilliant and colourful, imagining a summer night stuffed with passion and latest possibilities. I used to be inspired by some art pieces from my very own collection, and plants and animals depicted in orientalist paintings. I also collaborated with a recent Chinese artist, Jiang Cheng. I like his daring use of color on the prints he designed,” he noted.

Wei said he picked the situation because he was mesmerized by “the water lilies blooming within the pond, the birds chirping, the daylight at three o’clock within the afternoon through the rustling leaves” when he first visited the place in July.

“It is extremely much in step with my inspiration for this season. For the reason that garden is a historic site, I felt it will be good so as to add some styling details with a Chinese flair,” he added.

An example of that will be the addition of necklaces made with hand-carved nephrite jade from Xinjiang within the shapes of classic Chinese iconographies, similar to flowers, birds, fish, insects, playful monkeys and sleeping lions.

Shie Lyu’s collection was also inspired by nature, her experimental photography of butterfly specimens to be more precise.

“I purchased some [butterfly specimens] just a few years ago. I didn’t do anything with them until sooner or later I had a sudden idea to shoot them with a knife. I used to be really interested in this sort of collisional beauty. The knife represents sharpness and danger, and the butterflies represent magnificence and temptation. Together they formed a rare state of aggressive beauty,” said Lyu.

Alongside her signature cropped jackets in leather and tweeds, and upcycling creations dangling across the body, she integrated butterfly prints on corsets, cutout tops and mermaid skirts, and created a skirt made with PVC pockets full of actual butterfly wings.

Looks from Chén Sifān's Spring 2024 collection

Looks from Chén Sifān’s Spring 2024 collection.

Courtesy of Chén Sifān

For recent Central Saint Martin graduate Chén Sifān’s debut collection, the designer presented a group for the fashionable man able to embrace a softer elegance. Inspired by the tragic love story of M. Butterfly, Chen utilized traditional Chinese color schemes and incorporated printing, embroidery and crochet techniques to signal the Eastern heritage of the brand.

Generously draped collars that showed up on Chinese jackets, linen shirting in addition to cardigans added a subtle touch of fluidity to Chen’s design, showcasing his unique tackle Chinese masculinity.

“Despite the fact that the market is hard, we made the brave step to begin a brand with an uncompromising vision,” said Chen of his namesake brand. “Even when we fail, not less than we’ve made an try to deliver something positive to the audience.”

Looks from Ponder.er spring 2024 collection

Looks from Ponder.er spring 2024 collection.

Courtesy of Ponder.er

Ponder.er, the Yu Prize-winning gender-neutral label founded by Alex Po and Derek Cheng, considered the spring 2024 season the start of a latest journey looking for “your personal heaven on earth.” The show featured a various solid of models to bolster the brand’s inclusive stance.

“It’s pretty open for interpretations and we consider heaven really means various things for various people, be it romance, lust, gluttony or freedom. But this collection is about adding some spice to our own journey in life, and the pieces are how we imagine someone in our Ponder.er universe would wear on a road trip towards their very own destinations,” Po noted backstage.

The gathering on offer put a giant give attention to denim, with computer graphics achieved by mixing smocking with fraying. The duo also played with the combination of hand-crochet structures with denim and off-cut textiles coated with digital prints.

Other designers continued to construct around their very own universes as well, some pushing a little bit further than others.

Following a runway show in London that explored the connection between artificial intelligence and spirituality, Susan Fang restaged the spring 2024 collection in Shanghai in the shape of an art exhibition with a dance performance, vocal music, lighting and an installation made from 3,000 handcrafted crystal bead trees created from pure silver wire and transparent crystal beads, made by moms from ethnic minority backgrounds in the agricultural area of China.

Looks from Haizhen Wang spring 2024

Looks from Haizhen Wang spring 2024.

Courtesy of Haizhen Wang

Fashion Fringe winner Haizhen Wang this season offered a chic tackle the concept little black dress. He referenced cutting techniques pioneered by Madeleine Vionnet and Madame Grès to recreate iconic silhouettes from the ’90s for China’s Gen-Z audience.

Tommy Zhong, a graduate of the Glasgow School of Art, presented a minimalistic wardrobe with crocheted tops, cropped jackets, A-line skirts and slipdresses in watercolor prints. Zhong has carved out a market area of interest with pieces made for “a girl who’s free and sure of herself,” said the designer behind the eponymous brand.

The designer initiated a light-weight breeze on the model’s skin using natural fabrics similar to silk and organza. His signature color palette, subdued in nature, emulates the sunshine on a foggy spring afternoon. Zhong’s design enables his wearers to maneuver freely from the office to a rendez-vous by the Bund.

A look from Staffonly spring 2024

A glance from Staffonly spring 2024.

Courtesy of Staffonly

Staffonly, a fashion label founded by Shimo Zhou and Une Yea, played around the thought of procrastination within the workplace at its spring 2024 show, with models carrying XXL backpacks walking backward.

In an try to reflect on the creative methodology of the pre-digital era, the duo utilized traditional items which are related to creativity in the brand new season. The result was a unusual and playful lineup with tailored jackets and T-shirts constructed with blue and pink tape, a polo with beaded patterns that resembled early electronic circuit boards, and leather shoes with decorations in the shape of a large piece of pencil shavings.

For the Recent York-based Private Policy‘s restaged show in Shanghai, the label continued to boost awareness around timely issues similar to social justice and environmental harmony.

Inspired by the mission to safeguard coral reefs, the designers Haoran Li and Siying Qu incorporated deep-sea diving equipment similar to wetsuits, mesh headgear, and life vests into the utilitarian collection.

The gathering also included three latest looks powered by a collaboration with the Chinese animation series Link Click. “Fashion has all the time been a vehicle of creative storytelling, it’s a vital tool for animation creators as well,” explained Li. “The collaboration is a collision of creative output.”

Looks from Danshan's spring 2024 collection

Looks from Danshan’s spring 2024 collection.

Courtesy of Dan Shan

Also keen on exploring the softer side of masculinity, London-based menswear label Danshan dedicated its latest collection to the “modern-day sadboy and the wardrobe that these romantics shared with their lovers.”

This season, designer Danxia Liu and Shan Peng Wong hosted a series of immersive theater as an alternative of a full-blown runway show. In a bedroom setting covered with blue bedding, models lulled around and gestured to one another subtly in a dream-like state.

The mood animated Danshan’s delicate use of materials similar to satin, chiffon, tulle and mesh. This time, the designer prolonged the usage of these elements into closet essentials, similar to Ts, tanks and hoodies. The label’s signature “sun” motif continued to turn into a pencil drawing print version, revealing the fantastic thing about imperfection.

A look from Zi Ii Ci Ien spring 2024

A glance from Zi Ii Ci Ien spring 2024.

Courtesy of Zi Ii Ci Ien

Knitwear designer Zhi Chen presented a considered lineup under the brand Zi Ii Ci Ien for her fun-loving and carefree clients who’re growing into maturity. She offered more daywear options for official functions, in addition to simpler feminine pieces made with rubber and fishnet blended threads.

“The gathering represents the technique of my growth. The colourful pieces in the beginning represented people’s initial perception of me. I used to be like a toddler. So carefree. The center part regularly transitioned to green tones, and the design became more mature. The ultimate part is incredibly feminine and fairy-like, which is something not present in my previous works,” Chen said.

Besides Chen, Osmos and Chundie Zhu are two knitwear-focused brands to look at in Shanghai. Osmos, designed by Steven Oo, presented the brand new collection with an outside show at the previous headquarters of Swire in Shanghai with knitted separates in pastel tones, ostrich feather-dotted ensembles, patchwork maxi dresses, and fringed fishnet numbers on offer.

Looks from Chundie Zhu spring 2024 collection

Looks from Chundie Zhu spring 2024 collection.

Courtesy of Looks from Chundie Zhu

Zhu’s collection was a black-and-white Gothic fantasy with dramatic shapes and layerings. Standouts included bustier tops with spiderweb-like pleats in silk, ruched dresses, and hand-crocheted knits that hardly covered the body.

Also entering the realm of monotone, designer Yibin Chen offered a sculptural and female collection using a combination of leather, jacquard, lace, knits, and silk not unlike the vibe of Iris Van Herpen and Issey Miyake.

Linlin Chasse, a young brand founded by Central Saint Martins alum Zhu Lin, found inspiration in Luigi Pirandello’s famous play “Six Characters in Search of an Writer.” The result was a dramatic lineup where daywear meets ’80s glamour.

Through the use of laser-cutting techniques, Lin was capable of achieve exaggeration with precision. “I desired to marry pioneering theater with fashion and use clothing as a carrier to explore the complex relationship between truth and absurdity, reality and illusion, life and art,” she said.

A look from Redemptive spring 2024

A glance from Redemptive spring 2024.

Courtesy of Redemptive

Wilson Choi, the designer behind the style label Redemptive, said this season he aimed to explore the issues of recent life from a humorous perspective and convey an encouraging attitude. He was inspired by a series of office-themed photographs by Swedish photographer Lars Tunbjörk, through which “this formatted world becomes a ridiculous farce.”

A fitting representation of his concept could be the unisex denim tie rope ensembles. Choi said the denim was sourced from a material store in Hong Kong that’s closing down. He employed a distressed snowflake wash technique to create a vintage effect and add a touch of rebellious attitude.

Stella Song, founding father of the Shanghai-based communication and digital marketing agency Socialight with clients similar to Mulberry, JW Anderson and Byredo, observed that local designers are collectively widening the worth range to satisfy the demand from each ends.

“We are able to see that the size of brand name youthfulness, popularity and inclusivity that directly touch consumer awareness are the most effective ways to draw latest customers and maintain brand freshness. We also observed that there are more brand collaborations. Luxury players are tapping right into a wider, younger and latest consumer market through these collaborations. This can be why many designer brands are [widening] their price range and play secure this 12 months. It is a manifestation of the designer brand’s two-way selection of high cost-effectiveness and consumer emotional value in response to the patron market trend,” she added.

The Shanghai Fashion Week show venue at Xintiandi

The Shanghai Fashion Week show venue at Xintiandi.

Tianwei Zhang/WWD

Redemptive’s Choi said that this season he adjusted the ratio of men’s and ladies’s and introduced more unisex products in addition to easier-to-wear styles priced between 1,000 to 2,500 renminbi (about $136 to $342) to draw a wider audience. Oude Waag’s Yin implemented an identical strategy. Not only did he offer one-of-a-kind gowns for those with little budget concern, however the designer can be selling graphic swimwear at around 1,500 renminbi (about $205).

Zi Ii Ci Ien’s Chen noted her collection got here with clear merchandise planning.

“My collection actually began from the planning. The garments, be it showpieces or business ones, are all a part of the business. I feel facing an economic downturn is a wonderfully normal a part of running a brand. Price adjustments might have the opportunity to show you how to survive the economic cycle, but long-term brand planning and positioning is more necessary than anything,” she added.

Overall, Song believes that brands developing a diffracted brand positioning and influence is vital to breaking through the competition amid the bear market, especially for Chinese designer brands.

“Find out how to develop their very own brand asset accumulation and user accumulation is especially necessary,” she said, adding that only when the brand influence is robust enough, stickiness of consumption is high enough, and there may be a deep understanding and resonance with brand values and ideas, plus the brand continuously attracts latest customers and turns them into loyal users, will a fashion business find sustainable long-term growth.

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