As Fashion Week season rolls on, designers’ efforts to appeal to the lucrative China market have been apparent in everything from their shows’ front-row guests to the models walking the runway. The China influence has also been seen in the clothing designs themselves, through both overt China-focused styles and the prevalence of auspicious bright red looks.
China-inspired styles have been featured in the collections of several top designers. In addition to the Shanghai- and American Chinese restaurant-derived looks on display at Kate Spade during New York Fashion Week, Anna Sui featured a collection with a “chinoiserie meets Twenties Art Deco” feel, and Zang Toi based his glamorous looks on the decadence of 1930s Shanghai.
Many Chinese-style collections—such as those by Kate Spade, Anna Sui, and Vivienne Tam—featured items in a vibrant red that was common in retailers’ Chinese New Year window displays earlier this year. The shade wasn’t just limited to these designers, however—rather, it has appeared in a huge number fall collections so far and has been officially labeled a trend by Women’s Wear Daily.
A diverse array of labels such as Prabal Gurung, Coach, Tibi, Helmut Lang, Carolina Herrera, Tom Ford, and Tadashi Shoji have featured the color prominently in their collections. Even though the designs feature no overt chinoiserie, it would be difficult to believe that designers didn’t have China in mind when producing the looks. In addition to the shade’s popularity for the recent onslaught of special-edition Chinese New Year goods, it was the hue of choice for Valentino’s mid-season China-only collection unveiled in Shanghai in November.
Many of the designers using the tint in their pieces sent Chinese models down the runway wearing them: Monique Lhullier’s show featured Ming Xi in a red sequined dress, Sun Fei Fei wore a red wrap sweater at Diane von Furstenberg, Kaelen presented a dress modeled by Liu Xu, Sissi Hou walked in one of Vivienne Tam’s red looks, Li Wei sported a striking red gown at Bibhu Mohapatra, and Sun Ting wore the hue in an ensemble at Alexandre Herchcovitch.
While the color is considered auspicious in China, it is difficult to prove designers are using it specifically for the Chinese market. However, in addition to the use of Chinese models, many of the designers using red this season are those that have made the strongest efforts to appeal to China. Diane von Furstenberg has possibly pursued the most robust strategy, with a year of the horse collection, Chinese celebrities front-row and backstage at her show, Chinese models, and a strong Chinese social media presence. Meanwhile, Carolina Herrera and Coach also created special year of the horse products. Regardless, it goes without saying that if designers featuring the red didn’t have the China market in mind when they presented their collections, now would be a good time for them to start thinking about it.