While China’s fashion weeks are all about showcasing local talent, foreign brands that unveil their collections in New York, London, Paris, or Milan are increasingly hosting off-season, China-based shows in order to gain the attention of the world’s largest group of luxury consumers. Free from the constraints of the conventional fashion week format, brands experiment with high-tech sensory experiences, live-streaming, social media, and e-commerce. Look below for our list of the top five of the year:
1. CFDA’s “Americans in China” show
In an event prescient of the rise of niche labels in China, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) sponsored a show featuring American brands Proenza Schouler, Rag & Bone, and Marchesa at Beijing’s Ming Dynasty City Wall. The event was attended by a host of China fashion luminaries, including Angelica Cheung and Carina Lau.
The French label’s second couture event in China featured a lineup of 300 ultra-VIPs, including actresses Zhang Ziyi, Shu Qi, Sun Li, and Angelababy. For the show, Dior re-created its Paris salon in Shanghai at Bund 5, and hosted a special dinner afterward.
Valentino’s innovative show in November marked the first time the show has ever unveiled a new collection outside Paris. The special line of ready-to-wear and haute couture was unveiled at a Shanghai show livestreamed online and heavily promoted on Chinese social media. The items were made immediately available at the label’s Shanghai flagship, and will stay exclusive to China until April 2014.
4. Hugo Boss
This May, A-listers such Gerard Butler, Carey Mulligan, Chow Yun-fat, and China Chow turned out for Hugo Boss’ high-tech Shanghai runway show. Like Valentino’s, the show was live-streamed worldwide and promoted on social media. The brand built up hype for the event with a set of online mini-movies, and featured two China-specific looks that were available for purchase online immediately following the event.
5. Dior Homme
Recognizing the importance of China’s menswear market, Dior followed its haute couture show with Dior Homme’s futuristic event, which, like some of the other shows mentioned, featured some China-specific looks. The show was held in Beijing at the Museum of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in conjunction with the reopening of Dior’s renovated Seasons Place boutique, and was aimed at conveying an upscale image.