The prestigious Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize has named China-born, London-based designer Huishan Zhang this year’s award recipient, marking one of several major awards going to a London-based Chinese designer, and signifying Chinese designers’ growing influence on the global fashion stage.
For the award, Zhang competed with up-and-coming global names such as Emilia Wickstead, Fyodor Golan, and Babara Casasola. The prize will include £25,000 and industry mentorship for his label.
London has become a significant hotspot for Chinese designers, many of whom are able to use their global credentials to gain a toehold in the China fashion market. Recently, Lane Crawford-owned multibrand retailer JOYCE brought London-based designers Robert Wun, Patrick Li, and Ryan Lo back to China for a pop-up installation in Hong Kong.
Zhang is not the first Chinese designer to win a major international fashion award—and he definitely won’t be the last. Some recent awardees have been Yifang Wan, winner of the 2013/14 Vauxhall Fashion Scout’s Merit Award, and Haizhen Wang, winner of the 2012 Fashion Fringe award. All three of these designers hail from London’s respected Central Saint Martins institute, which has also turned out major Chinese designers Vega Zaishi Wang, Yang Du, and Uma Wang.
Born in Qingdao, Zhang was trained at Central Saint Martin and worked for a year at Dior until founding his label. His spring/summer 2014 collection unveiled at this season’s London Fashion Week was inspired by “Madame Vionnet’s draping technique,” which links to “ancient Chinese mathematics.”
With prestigious international fashion pedigrees and Chinese backgrounds, these designers will likely be a formidable force in the China fashion market in the years to come as consumers move away from mega-labels and toward inventive niche designers. Don’t just expect to see them in mainland and Hong Kong boutiques, however—Zhang’s collection was picked up by American retailer Barneys as a result of the award.