Once Darth Vader hits the catwalks, there’s no denying it—the force is now with big names in the Chinese fashion scene as part of a Disney marketing campaign that is spreading across industries to get Star Wars fans excited for the upcoming film.
The craze took hold of the Great Wall last month thanks to an army of photo-friendly Stormtrooper statues, and over the summer, Disney made history when it screened the original flicks at The Shanghai International Film Festival in theaters and also signed a deal to make them available on China’s leading online video platform Youku Tudou. As the tension builds before the December 18 release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in the United States, Chinese clothing labels have joined the official effort to hype up the excitement.
Star Wars made a stylish appearance at Mercedes-Benz China Fashion Week in Beijing in October with a parents-and-kids collection by Shanghai-based designer Liu Jia. The cuts and reflective materials she used gave off a futuristic look in line with the imagery in the classic films, complemented by mother-and-daughter dresses boasting Storm Trooper and Darth Vader helmets. In another show, male models donning Darth Vader masks walked the runway wearing the Spring/Summer 2016 collection by Taiwanese label Gioia Pan, who told fans on Instagram two weeks ago that she had a contract with Disney to create Star Wars clothing. Her monochrome menswear channels sci-fi geek with R2D2 tees and digital-centric high-collared jackets. Meanwhile, at Malaysia Fashion Week, Jimmy Choo showed off his solidarity with Star Wars with galactic sneakers.
But it gets even more local than that—Beijing-based designer Xander Zhou already had a leg up on the others last year when he became the first designer based in the Chinese mainland to obtain the licenses to do a Star Wars theme for his Spring/Summer 2015 line. Then things went somewhat quiet in the high-end indie scene until Wu Yingnan of leather handbag label Rfactory designed a wearable Star Wars shoe and purse collection at the invitation of Disney. Using luminescent materials and playful prints, she pays tribute to the series’ beloved characters: Jar Jar Binks beams on a black leather shoulder bag, a droid makes a statement on a wallet, and Darth Vader himself embarks on a battle on a backpack.
“To be able to work with Star Wars as a designer is a huge honor,” Wu said in a press release. “A designer who is able to work on Star Wars’ products and the brand is a top-notch designer no matter where you are in the world. To be a part of it at all is a huge accomplishment for me.”
One of the biggest highlights of her work is the LED-powered light saber clutch. As the Chinese movie industry booms, “more and more people will pay for the movie products, and this market is growing really fast in China,” Wu told Jing Daily.
The whole collection is due to launch just in time for Christmas, and will at least be one gift to Chinese fashionistas and fans in lieu of a set China release date in China for J.J. Abrams’ sequel.