Chinese Designers Seek Greater Visibility Overseas
Male fashion trends in China aren’t limited to luxury man-bags and polo shirts. At the recently concluded Mercedes-Benz China Fashion Week S/S 2012, menswear brands and designers enjoyed a higher profile, with the likes of VLOV-Qingqing Wu, Zuoan, Zeng Fengfei, and Sundance giving the public a fresh look at a market segment not usually singled out as a bright spot in China.
As Jing Daily pointed out last month, Beijing-based designer Qingqing (“Richard”) Wu debuted his S/S 2012 collection at New York Fashion Week, becoming the first Chinese designer to show at Lincoln Center. Following his experience in New York, Wu fine-tuned his designs for China Fashion Week, stripping down the designs for his VLOV label. His alterations must have done the trick, as Wu was awarded a “Top Ten Fashion Designer Award” at China Fashion Week for the second year in a row.
In addition to being sold at higher-end shopping centers in China, Wu’s VLOV is eyeing a store in New York, and is mapping out a plan to promote Chinese designs internationally and connect with global buyers. As the designer told the Beijing Business News, in terms of expected market share for home-grown Chinese apparel brands, the potential is greater at home than overseas. However, Wu said, Chinese designers have plenty of room to grow, and designed-in-China labels could see international interest grow steadily in the near future.
Eight months after listing on the New York Stock Exchange, the Shanghai-based leading Chinese menswear brand Zuoan (左岸) unveiled its newest pieces at China Fashion Week. Looking to build its visibility overseas, Zuoan has sought to appear at more international events in recent years, and has actively reached out to global buyers and clients in the hopes of paving the way for rapid international deployment over the next several years. Currently, Zuoan has over 1,100 stores throughout China.
Xiamen-based fashion designer Zeng Fengfei, who debuted his S/S 2012 menswear collection at China Fashion Week, hopes to turns the concept of Chinese menswear — heavy on drab colors and humdrum design — on its head. Zeng’s designs tend to incorporate Chinese elements like the “Dragon Totem,” which the designer says is inspired by traditional culture. Like many womenswear designers in China, Zeng has extensively adopted Chinese techniques like silk, weaving, and uses deep, vivid reds in his collections. As Zeng said at China Fashion Week, “I have always explored the idea of using Chinese fabrics, but I don’t want to present this side of history too directly. I want these elements to come across in a more modern, youthful and fashionable way in my designs.”
At the moment, Zeng’s collections are sold at high-end Beijing shopping malls such as Shin Kong Place and Scitech Plaza. In the years ahead, Zeng believes that home-grown fashion and premium brands will go international, his included.
Changsha-based Sundance (圣得西), which previously focused exclusively on the southern China fashion market, has now expanded to the north of the country and doesn’t plan to stop there. According to founder Luo Wenliang, talent is the key — over the past few years, Luo has built up a team made up of designers from France and South Korea, and is looking to tailor his collections for international audiences. Despite a more mass-market look and pricing strategy, Luo’s ambition makes Sundance a label to watch in the years ahead.