Will Chinese Designers Control The Fashion Industry of the Future?

    International Fashion Scout (ITS), a key barometer of the industry’s talent, had seven Chinese finalists this year. Is this a sign of things to come?
    Chinese-born Syna Chen, winner of the Press Choice Award at ITS 2020. Photo credits: Giuliano Koren
      Published   in Fashion

    What happened

    The International Fashion Scout (ITS) competition attracts entries from fashion’s newest graduates from around the world. For almost twenty years, it has offered valuable support and mentorship to its finalists, and has, therefore, been well placed to predict shifts in the industry.

    This year, of the 23 finalists from 16 countries, seven came from China. These included Kin Yan Lam’s dong cloth from Southern China and Bo Zhang’s melted materials. Chinese designer Syna Chen’s inflatable designs secured her the Press Choice Award. Chen received €5,000 and her work will now join the physical ITS Creative Archive in Trieste, Italy featuring 20,000 items (ranging from portfolios to accessories).

    The Jing Take

    Over the years, many ITS finalists have gone on to hold key positions in some the most important international fashion houses or have established their own brands, making it a notable barometer of the industry’s future. These include Balenciaga’s Denma Gvasalia, Richard Quinn, and Yuima Nakazato. Since 2002, Chinese designers have been entering the global contest and so far, a total of 895 contestants enrolled from China. Some of the most notable include Shengwei Wang, who went on to work for Galliano and Alexander McQueen; Haizhen Wang, who worked for Max Mara and now runs his one line, and NYFW’s Kim Shui, who designed for Helmut Lange and Rick Owens.

    According to Founder and Director of ITS, Barbara Franchin, the creativity of Chinese designers has never been in question. “At ITS, we have always admired the technical ability of Chinese designers and now their creativity has exploded. They have found their own powerful voice.” ITS 2020 was a record year for Chinese finalists. And, if this trajectory is anything to go by, their presence and power in the industry are only set to increase exponentially — both in the background at luxury labels and in the foreground through their own brands.

    The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.

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