Local designers bloom at Shanghai Fashion Week

We continue our coverage of autumn/winter 2016 fashion week coverage around the world

Runway

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A coterie of talented and increasingly mature independent designers showed at this month’s Shanghai Fashion Week, which ran April 8 to 16 2016. 

With international fashion schools pumping out an increasing number of Chinese graduates in recent years, there is no shortage of young talent wanting to try their hand at building a fashion brand here. At the same time, a new generation of Chinese consumers, hungry for innovation, are far more accepting of buying a homegrown label than they were even a few years ago, and retailers have responded by promoting local designers.

This confluence of factors has been a boon for Shanghai Fashion Week organisers, who are building a business infrastructure around the schedule of shows and presentations. At least half a dozen showrooms and trade shows now run concurrently with fashion week here, and international buyers are taking note – adding Shanghai to their own schedules.

Another development new to Shanghai Fashion Week this season was the addition of a new venue. Traditional runway shows continued to be held in the tents at Taiping Park, in the city’s upmarket Xintiandi district, while in the up-and-coming Rockbund development, by Shanghai’s famed Bund promenade, a former printing house was repurposed for designers to use as a backdrop for more flexible “presentations”.

One of the highlights of these presentations was the Australian-Chinese label Ffixxed, which is based near the southern manufacturing hub of Shenzhen and is becoming known for men’s and women’s collections with a neutral vibe and textured fabrics. The tunic tops, crossover jackets and high wrap skirts are distinctly wearable, with comfort at front of mind for designers Kain Picken and Fiona Lau. Natural fibres, such as wool, in the form of chunky knits were layered to casual and cozy effect in this fall effort.

Ban Xiao Xue, a 2012/2013 International Woolmark Prize Asia Region winner, was another highlight, with a fall-winter collection that was something of a departure from his usual earthy, Zen aesthetic. An injection of playfulness was evident, and the theme of romantic love was showcased repeatedly in essentially the same item of clothing — a single-breasted winter coat worn by models over a nude body stocking. Each coat was differentiated with the use of different materials, embroidery, appliqué and colour combinations.

Tina Gia also impressed with a collection marked by long, fluid lines, and a classic brand of femininity. Brand founder, Xu Qinghui, takes inspiration from the enduring style of European capitals – with a more muted, understated aesthetic than is common among Asian brands. This fall-winter collection featured numerous takes on knitwear, all of them sleek and with a focus on comfort.

The Woolmark Company also had a more direct hand in Shanghai Fashion Week this year, partnering with local Chinese brands for two different catwalk shows. The first, with looks designed by TRANDS, Kevin Kelly and ICICLE using the premium fabrics from Woolmark Gold, crafted in British mills, was anchored with a raft of slim-fitting suits. The second Woolmark Gold show was a collaboration with Chinese designer Wang Yutao’s Beautyberry brand. The aesthetic at the Beautyberry show was more street wear-focused, with a particularly impressive array of technical pleating on some coats and pullovers.

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