It seems that fashion is heading East. China has opened up a market for luxury fashion, but will the world be watching China's own emerging talent?
(Left: image from American Vogue, dress is from Rochas. Right: imagery from Ports 1961 SS 2006 collection)
When I was just out of design school, I thought about the option of going abroad for post-graduate studies in Paris. I contacted an alumni who was happy to answer my questions about the program I was interested in. To my surprise, ok well not really, the economic downturn has really affected the job market in Parisian fashion. You could do countless internships at major fashion houses and still not land a secure job. The alumni I contacted, she was from China, she had stayed for a bit after graduation but was actually going back to start her own label. After that, I decided not to bother with the lengthy application process.
I was watching part two of China's Rise last night. It's a CBC documentary that will be eventually shown all over the world, but of course Canada was the first to view it. Essential viewing to anyone interested in finding out what the new wave of China is like. The documentary makes some points about fashion in Shanghai: You are what you buy .
China is making efforts to rebrand its cultutal identity through Shanghai's development as a new world. A dreamy yet modern city with parts of it that takes after the like of Paris. This is where the new yuppie generation resides. Fashion has become a major part of its development as a cultural center. Five years ago, you couldn't buy a Louis Vuiton wallet in China, wealthy Chinese would voyage to Paris for their LV status symbol fix. Today, Shanghai houses every luxury fashion brand imaginable.
The word is that Ports is a success story in China. Ports is as recognizable as Chanel or Prada. A Canadian brand that I hadn't heard about in the news for a long time. In the "absence", Ports relocated to China and was refocusing it brand for the Chinese market. The brand does well for its approach: clean-cut designer-ish clothes at a fraction of a designer price tag. Their Ports 1961 brand, a higher end line, uses fabrics imported from Italy combined with the lower cost of labor from Chinese workers, makes a winning combination for those who seek value in what they buy. The womens line is surprisingly beautiful, the brand has come a long way to make itself desirable, but it seems that it is being missed under the fashion radar.
Though foreign companies have made its way into China, what will China's exports be? China is trying to shed its sweatshop labor reputation and promoting its own young emerging designers. It seems that every world capital that wants to revamp their image is doing it through fashion. But it still has a long way to go before anyone goes beyond New York, Paris and Milan. London is only recently gained its notoriety. It would take a lot more than a fashion week to shift their attention.
This post is a part of The State of the Fashion Union blogging carnival. It's a countdown to New York Fashion Week, and you can find out more about this event through Almost Girl or FashionTribes.