Established in August 2010 by the highly influential Chinese media figure, publisher and blogger Hong Huang and situated in Beijing's popular Sanlitun Village (also home to brands like Maison Martin Margiela, Balmain and Lanvin), over the past year Brand New China (BNC) has sought to bring young Chinese designers to a wider audience. Stocking a curated selection of items by an ever-rotating cast of characters, BNC has even started to branch into developing a house brand of sorts, signing up-and-comer Xiang Yaodong (项耀东) as its first in-house designer this August and announcing plans to include more young talent in a specialized “Designer for BNC” collection.
Recently, Hong Huang held an event in Beijing to celebrate the first anniversary of her first foray into the world of fashion retail, mounting a runway show to spotlight some of the newest designs stocked at her store and reiterate her interest in finding the best and brightest in China's nascent design industry.
[BNC]'s 540-square-meter shop, displaying works by more than 150 Chinese designers' clothing, furniture and household articles, is perhaps symbolic of the rise of Chinese design.
The runway show is to unveil the brand's 20 latest products while celebrating its first anniversary.
The models and products make the show like any other in the world. But the thermos flasks printed with Chinese characters carried by the models remind the audience where the label comes from.
"Sanlitun Village has been regarded as one of the city's hippest areas," Hong says.
"The rent is very high. I am proud to announce you can find such a store dedicated to our local designers here."
And the brand has been more successful than expected, the 51-year-old says.
"We planned to become profitable in 18 months," she says.
"It took 12. Next year, we will focus on making more profits and developing."
Though the names of designers stocked at BNC might not resonate quite yet with China's Western brand-obsessed shoppers or fashion-forward types outside of the country, a few are coming to the forefront at a surprising rate. Perhaps no designer stocked by BNC has achieved the steadily growing notoriety as Shanghai's Uma Wang, who was recently profiled by Britain's Telegraph and who is readying a global collaboration with Swatch for next spring. But Wang's far from the only up-and-coming designer on the scene. Along with designers previously profiled by Jing Daily, such as Vega Zaishi Wang and Xander Zhou, cutting-edge couturiers like Chi Zhang, Ye Qian, and Bo Kewen have caught the eye of Chinese taste-makers.
Luckily for anyone curious about China's young designers (who happens to be in Beijing), BNC and other multi-designer retailers like Dong Liang and Triple-Major are there to share a slice of the country's fashion avant-garde.