Chinese Models Make Their Mark On New York Fashion Week

    For American designers hoping to gain the attention of Chinese fashionistas, Chinese models were a runway must at New York Fashion Week.
    Jing Daily
    Jing DailyAuthor
      Published   in Fashion

    Xiao Wen Ju walking the Tory Burch F/W 14 runway at New York Fashion Week. (Women's Wear Daily)

    Now that New York Fashion Week has come to an end, women’s interest blog Jezebel has released its semi-annual report on diversity on the runways. This season, the site finds that the number of Asian models hasn’t gone up dramatically, causing it to note the continued "white-washed" feel of many fashion shows. However, brands with a stronger interest in reaching the China market tended to feature more Chinese models than their peers, along with other efforts that will likely help them stand out to Chinese fashionistas.

    According to a chart on the site, white models once again comprised close to 80 percent of the total for the week, with Asian models around 10 percent (two different charts on the post actually say 9.75 percent and 7.67 percent for Asian models right now). Since 2008, the number of Asian models has risen significantly on average, thanks in no small part to the growing presence of Chinese models that emerged as China's luxury market took off.

    The standout Chinese models this season were Tian Yi with 16 shows, Xiao Wen Ju with 15, and Chen Lin with 14, according to Asian Models Blog. Notably, the brands working to gain Chinese publicity for their shows through featuring Chinese celebrities in the front rows also had multiple top Chinese models walking the runway, including Tory Burch (Xiao Wen Ju, Fei Fei Sun, and Tong Zhang), Tommy Hilfiger (Xiao Wen Ju and Fei Fei Sun), Marc by Marc Jacobs (Xiao Wen Ju and Fei Fei Sun), and Diane von Furstenberg (Xiao Wen Ju, Fei Fei Sun, and Ming Xi). Some brands featuring multiple Chinese models also touted the fact on Chinese social media—Diane von Furstenberg posted a photo of its three Chinese models, saying that they represented “the unique beauty of East and West!”

    Diane von Furstenberg posted images of Ming Xi (L), Fei Fei Sun (M), and Xiao Wen Ju (R) walking the runway at New York Fashion Week on Sina Weibo. (Sina Weibo/Diane von Furstenberg)

    From a look at the show lists on, top designers tended to feature between one and three Chinese models in their shows this season. Also featuring more than one Chinese model in their shows were 3.1 Phillip Lim (Xiao Wen Ju and Shu Pei), Anna Sui (Xiao Wen Ju, Fei Fei Sun, and Sui He), Monique Lhuillier (Tian Yi and Ming Xi), Vera Wang (Shu Pei and Fei Fei Sun), and Opening Ceremony (Xiao Wen Ju and Ming Xi).

    Absent from New York Fashion Week this season was Liu Wen, the first Chinese model to ever make it onto Forbes’ list of the world’s top highest-paid models.

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