From Chinese designers to top Chinese celebrities in the front rows of fashion shows, China has had a huge presence at the world’s “big four” fashion weeks—New York, London, Milan, and Paris. As “fashion month” wraps up with Paris Fashion Week, Hung Huang responds to readers’ questions about China’s ever-growing presence at these international fashion events.
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If a Chinese designer studies fashion abroad in London or Europe and wants to break into the China market, is it more effective to show their collection in China or at one of the “big four” fashion weeks abroad?
Independent designers like to show at international fashion week for PR reasons. Independent designers like Uma Wang do not care about the Chinese domestic market; they focus on high-fashion boutiques such as 10 Corso Como. This might be why they show in Europe more than New York. The latter is more commercial. Showing in New York, London, Milan, or Paris does not necessarily boost sales in China. Most Chinese fashion press—print and digital—cover the four major shows, so it is easy to get them to go to the show. That’s the plus. The problem is that the fashion press are very client-oriented; unless you are a paying client, you might just get a minor mention and your show is drowned in a sea of big brands.
How important is it for brands to have Chinese celebrities in the front row at their fashion shows in Europe and the United States?
Increasingly, Chinese celebrities are using international fashion shows to bring exposure for themselves and vice-versa. So there is plenty of mutual benefit being spread around fashion week. Having a Chinese celebrity in the front row does help to get you pictures into Chinese press, particularly the digital portals. It’s very celebrity-oriented.
Last season, Dolce & Gabbana’s runway show at Milan Fashion Week featured Chinese models wearing qipaos and carrying cameras, shopping bags, and cellphones to represent “Chinese tourists” in Italy. What was the response to this in China’s fashion community?
As for all the “chinoiserie,” I think the Chinese are amused. The D&G Chinese tourist will get smiles and sneers. Chinese might not have the sense of humor and take it as an insult.