The Rise Of Chinese-Born, London-Based Designers

CBLB Designers Now On Fashion’s Front Row

Apu Jan

Heritage is no longer white noise. The rise of Chinese-born, London-based (CBLB) designers is now seeing them show up on fashion’s front row, not just in Europe but now in Asia as well.

Most recently, JOYCE took three promising London-based Chinese designers — Robert Wun, Patrick Li and Ryan Lo — back to China for a pop-up installation, realizing the market potential of Western-trained, Eastern-influenced designers in Hong Kong. This epiphany hasn’t come out of thin air — McKinsey & Co market analysts have confirmed that over a quarter of the global luxury market is derived from Chinese accounts, and Renminbi spent abroad comprises over 60 percent of that figure. The once lugubrious economy of China is a distant memory.

With equality on the rise, urban women commanding respectable salaries are now veering away from ostentatious displays of wealth and favoring intelligent luxury purchases. Instead of yet another Chanel handbag, more Chinese luxury shoppers might opt for a dress by Qingdao-born designer Huishan Zhang, who re-imagines traditional Chinese tailoring through the lens of Western style.

Huishan Zhang

China is finding it difficult to shake off the lingering stigma of the “Made in China” label at home and abroad, so it’s important to invest and support Chinese talent overseas. London is unlike most cities in the world encouraging a rich cultural melting pot, and is now proud host to some of the best emerging CBLB designers, among them Taiwanese Apu Jan (who opened London Fashion Week), Vauxhall Fashion Scout Award winner Yifang Wan, Yang Du, and Fashion Fringe-winner Haizhen Wang. As Haizhen Wang told us when asked why we’re now seeing the rise of CBLBs, “The Chinese want to prove we can do what the West can do. With the economic boom we are now more confident, and ultimately the East and West will always be seductive to each other.”

We will continue to see a steady positive rise in CBLBs because of their unique ability to infuse the best of their heritage with their current culture, satisfying the needs and tastes of a widely traveled, more sophisticated consumer.

JOYCE pop-up featuring CBLB designers

Yifang Wan

Alexa Beatriz is a London-based Economics graduate and independent journalist from Spain. In addition to being the UK correspondent for, Beatriz is the blogger behind


Fashion, Market Analysis