Vega Zaishi Wang is no stranger to China’s high fashion scene; her well-tailored designs are often spotted on the pages of the country’s high-profile fashion magazines, or on the backs of China’s well-heeled celebrity set.
From her very first collection, launched back in 2009, Wang has enjoyed something of a love affair with Chinese celebs, a fortuitous partnership that has led the designer to be able to build a sustainable brand in just seven years. “In 2009 I went to Beijing to do some photo shooting for my first collection and when I was there, a big celebrity came and bought my entire collection, so that’s why I decided to move to Beijing at that time,” Wang said. Since then, Wang’s flagship brand, as well as a lower-priced sister line that has made its debut recently, has found an increasingly wide audience among local fashion fans. Whereas once big name international luxury labels were the go-to for Chinese fashionistas, a desire for newness and individual style has led to an increase in interest in local independent designers among the country’s most fashion forward shoppers.
Wang’s main label is currently stocked in three standalone boutiques, as well as 28 multi-brand boutiques around the country, with international multi-brand store Opening Ceremony also picking up the label as part of its “Year of China” event. “People are getting to know independent brands, but compared with China’s population, which is huge, and compared with the traditional brands, our numbers are still small, but it’s getting bigger every year. For me, I’ve had my brand for seven years and from our sales, even now that the economy in China is not very good, we are still growing, it’s not affecting our business actually,” Wang said.
According to the designer, the not-so-secret ingredient to success for her brand has been a focus on getting the basics right from the beginning. It basically boils down to good designs, made well, from quality fabrics. “I think customers like our brand because we focus on good quality and beautiful fabrics and tailoring. Mostly we use wool and silk – natural fabrics,” she said. “The current collection we just finished is 2016 fall-winter and we’ve used a lot of wool. Our brand is quite focused on coats and we have a few different coat designs in the latest collection.”
The inspiration for the latest collection may seem to come from left field. Called “The Visible Faith”, its inspiration is the Congolese social and sartorial movement of “sapeurs”, who are known for turning the streets of Brazzaville, in the Republic of Congo, into an exhibition of suave with their three-piece suits, silk socks, fedoras and canes. “They often have to borrow money for their clothes, because they are poor. I was very touched by a documentary I saw,” Wang explained. “This is another meaning for clothing, because for them there is a real relationship with their clothing, it shows how clothing can be more than functional, more than beautiful, it can mean more. For the sapeur, it means their life and their relationships. I was very inspired by this.”
Looking ahead, this September will see Wang move the base of her design and manufacturing operation from the nation’s capital to the laid-back southern Chinese island town of Xiamen, in Fujian Province. A year in the city – which is also home to other Chinese independent fashion luminaries, such as Sankuanz and Ma Ke – following her graduation from fashion school has stuck with the young designer, who is comfortable enough with her profile to move a little away from the media and celebrity limelight of Beijing.
The next goal for Wang is simple: world domination. “I would like to focus more on the overseas market. Before, I didn’t have that much confidence to broaden our brand to abroad because we weren’t 100 percent prepared. In terms of production quality, timing and everything. I think now is the time because we have a sustainable team, more confidence in our suppliers and production,” she said.