Shanghai Fashion Week is Betting on the Home Team
Shanghai Fashion Week is betting on the home team when it comes to the future of its fashion week. It is looking inward at local talents it thinks, with the right support, will be able to make a global impact on the fashion industry. And with over 101 shows and presentations, 1200 brands with stands at one of the more than half a dozen massive trade fairs – not to mention the two giant show spaces, Xintiandi and Labelhood, dedicated to back to back runway shows – this fashion week clearly has the power to do exactly that.
Over the past five years Shanghai Fashion Week has grown exponentially, but the fashion week’s founder Madam LV is now determined to take stock and build its realm of influence in Asia first. She feels this will then, in turn, naturally draw more international press and buyers to China. “We are not aiming to become the 5th stop [after New York, London, Milan and Paris] but instead, we want to create a unique Shanghai eco-system of fashion week,” she said. Additionally, Madam LV also pointed out that the fashion week is still relatively young, having only been in existence for 17 years and is “very energetic and vibrant”, however it must continue to “promote the best of Chinese design”.
Already, up and coming brands launched by Chinese designers such as Shushu/Tong, Shuting Qiu, Ming Ma and Susan Fang are generating international buzz with tickets to their shows being in high demand Shanghai Fashion Week. This generation of Chinese designers are being trained in the West and bringing that expertise back to their homeland.
The draw of Shanghai Fashion Week could also be measured in the number of auxiliary industry events that took place in the city to coincide with the event. Kering, in collaboration with the innovative Silicon Valley company Plug and Play, hosted a conference on the topic of sustainability. The company launched the first ‘K Generation Talk & Award Ceremony’ in China with François-Henri Pinault, the Chairman and CEO of Kering, stating “there is no luxury without China, there is no sustainability without China.” when referring to the future of the industry.
Also, during Shanghai Fashion Week, French designer Alexandre Mattiussi, the founder of the brand AMI, decided to present his first fashion show outside of France in the “Paris of the East”. He then proceeded to do a whirlwind tour of Asia with stops in Seoul and Tokyo. The company has opened two stores in mainland China last year and have others in Hong Kong and Tokyo. “ From the start, China has been a leading force in the expansion and growth of AMI in the APAC region, but also on a global scale. “It felt natural to host our first fashion show abroad in Shanghai. We are very happy to gather here for this special occasion, with all our partners in China,” said Nicolas Santi-Weil, the CEO of AMI about the decision to show in Shanghai.
Stella McCartney was also in Shanghai for a dinner to celebrate the launch of an 11 piece capsule collection in collaboration with Mytheresa.com that launched during Shanghai Fashion Week. Additionally Marni’s creative director Francesco Risso flew into Shanghai from Italy for less than 24 hours just host a talk at the Xintiandi fashion show venue to promote his brand’s collaboration with the Miao people from the Guizhou region of China.
Editor in Chief of NOWFASHION, Gianluca Cantaro was one of the international journalists invited to attend the fashion week. In his assessment of the event, he concluded that “in the new global world, it’s not compulsory for the new inputs to continue to arrive from Italy or France (which are also stuck in an obsolete system); in a blossoming system such as China’s, unexpected ideas could rise easily – but it’s important those concepts must not be polluted or forced by western institutions”.
He has a point. Shanghai has a real opportunity to approach the concept of “fashion week” in new ways. It should lean into the idea of using technology to make its fashion week more inclusive and accessible to the wider public. Even something as simple as making access to fashion shows, trade fairs and presentations more seamless with QR code’s for those with all access passes such as international press and buyers would be a move in the right direction. It should also streamline the way the shows are currently done. At the Labelhood space, which was far from the Xintiandi site, there were two hours between shows, making it almost impossible to visit other trade fairs or do personal appointments and be able to get back in time for the next presentation.
Maybe the Western ways of putting on fashion weeks don’t have to be the way that Shanghai or any of its neighbors present their talents in the future, and if any country could flip the fashion script today it’s China, while it’s still young and not so set in its ways.
Madam LV feels like Chinese designers still need time to mature, both from a creative and business model perspective. However, if international press and buyers are looking for a “one-stop shopping” venue for the best that Asia has to offer, Shanghai could fit the bill. “New and interesting brands of emerging Chinese and Asian brands can be found here,” confirmed Madame LV “ it can be the go-to place for all the best talent in China.”
Jessica Michault is the Senior Vice President of industry relations at GPS Radar by Launchmetrics. She is also the editor-at-large for ODDA magazine and contributes to publications like the New York Times, the Business of Fashion, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and Mixte magazine.
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Shanghai Fashion Week is Betting on the Home Team
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