5 Minutes with Four Chinese Designers at New York Fashion Week

In comparison to the major international fashion show events in Europe, where it is still rare to see Chinese fashion designers, New York Fashion Week has increasingly become an accessible platform for many of them to make the connection to the international fashion circuit.

This time around, New York Fashion Week has welcomed a great number of fashion designers from China, ranging from the veteran players such as Vivienne Tam and Lanyu to newer lines like Taoray Wang and emerging talents including Jia Liu and many young Chinese fashion graduates who expect to debut their collection during the event in an attempt to attract some of the industry’s attention.

Over the past week, Jing Daily visited New York Fashion Week and talked to four Chinese fashion designers to see what they have in store for this season:

(L-R) Peter Brant, Jr., Tiffany Trump and Andrew Warren attend the Taoray Wang fashion show during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery 1, Skylight Clarkson Sq on September 9, 2017 in New York City. Photo: Nicholas Hunt/Getty.

Taoray Wang: Shanghai Baroque

This season, Chinese fashion designer Tao Wang brought “Shanghai Baroque” to New York Fashion Week. She told us her inspiration came from a performance of the masterpieces of two Baroque musicians, Purcell and Handel, at the Shanghai Symphony Hall. The designer has continued to receive support from the American “first daughter” Tiffany Trump, who once wore an ensemble by Tao to her father’s inauguration ceremony.

Jing Daily: Why did you name this season’s collection “Shanghai Baroque”?
Tao Wang: The inspiration came when I attended a Baroque concert in Shanghai. In my memory, Baroque music represents the classical culture. However, the concert I went to was performed by young and modern musicians from the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. They looked modern and stylish while performing classical Baroque music. That fusion has truly left a deep impression on me. That’s why I decided to base my design on it this time.

How is your relationship with Tiffany Trump going?
It has been very good. I made her a lot of outfits recently. We are good friends and we talk about fashion and apparel quite often. Her support was quite of unexpected to me, to be honest. She was an Upper East Side socialite from New York’s elite class and now the country’s first daughter. Her support definitely has brought me a lot of media attention. I am fully grateful for what she has done for me.

A model walks the runway at Taoray Wang during New York Fashion Week at Gallery 1, Skylight Clarkson Sq on September 9, 2017 in New York City. Photo: Antonio de Moraes Barros Filho/WireImage

Do you have any plans to make menswear for affluent Chinese men? 
Currently, no. There are so many brands in China making clothes for businessmen, but so few of them are for women leaders. So Taoray Wang will stick to our current positioning.

What is the next focus of the brand? Will you open an e-commerce store and step up your online marketing? 
My priority is product development. I will focus on designing more good clothes. In terms of e-commerce and digital marketing, I may do it if there is an appropriate opportunity.

Photo courtesy of Sechs Element

Chenhui Zhang & Peiyang Zou: Sustainability

Chenhui Zhang and Peiyang Zou are both Chinese fashion students who just graduated from Parsons School of Design this past May. They are luckily one step more advanced than the majority of their classmates on their career development as fashion designers. Just four months after graduation, they both had runway fashion shows at New York Fashion Week thanks to a design contest hosted by Chinese fashion start-up Sechs Element.

Sechs Element hosted a runway show for emerging designers from around the world whose fashion design embraces the idea of sustainability. Zhang and Zou are two finalists from China who made it.

How does your design reflect the idea of sustainability?
Zhang: My collection is based on the story of my grandma from the 1950s to 1980s, who experienced a lot of significant moments of China such as the Cultural Revolution. I referred to a lot of vintage designs in order to tell the story from that age. My sustainability concept shows in my sourcing of materials. I went back to the places where my grandma once stayed and found the materials there.

Zen:  I made a lot of efforts on material sourcing this time in order to make it sustainable and environment-friendly. All materials I used to make the collection was leftovers from my school, fashion companies I interned with previously and friends. Therefore, it is a recycling process. I first had the materials, then I based my design on what I have.

Jia Liu – Comme Tu Es

Chinese fashion designer Jia Liu brought her independent parent-kid brand “COMME TU ES ” to the New York Fashion Week this year. This season, her collection is focusing on exploring the relationship between parents and kids when they travel together.

Liu is a graduate of France’s MOD ART International Fashion Institute University and once lived in France for seven years. She has attended Beijing International Fashion Week and Shanghai International Fashion Week over the past eight years.

What is the story behind the designs of this season?
Jia Liu: My concept for this season is about family and travel. Many parents nowadays do not have enough time to spend with their children due to many reasons. Thus, I feel it is very important for parents to find a good way to maintain that closeness and interaction with their kids. I hope my clothes can help them connect and bond further.

This is your first show in New York. What is something unique we should know about it?
I think the most interesting part of my show here is that I brought a lot of kid models from China here with me. These lovely kids will wear my designs and walk on my runway. But after the show, my team will organize them to walk around the New York City. We hope to create an unforgettable and culturally immersive experience for them.