Travel Shanghai Fashion Week: Designers relish full schedule of physical shows
Can Haute Couture Withstand the Sweatpants Trend?
With Kim Jones and Matthew M Williams taking the reins at Fendi and Givenchy respectively, we ask: What is the future of haute couture?In fairly strong stead, surprisingly. While many corners of the fashion industry have been dramatically disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic—from show schedules to manufacturing and the world of street style — the smaller-scale bubbles of couture ateliers have managed to press on. The typical January fashion schedule of men’s shows may be thinner than usual this month, but the couture season promises most of the usual big hitters, even if they’re showing virtually.
At a Shanghai art museum built from converted oil tanks, an eclectically dressed crowd chattered excitedly and lamented the long wait for a showcase by Chinese fashion label, Private Policy. But attendees' impatience quickly dissipated as they were admitted to the venue and the brand sent its latest creations down a pink catwalk bathed in artificial fog.
The thrill and anticipation ofhas been sorely missed across the fashion world in the past year. But while events in Europe and North America are still impaired by the ongoing pandemic, it was business as usual in China.
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Shanghai Fashion Week's Fall-Winter 2021 edition, titled "Bloom the Spring," was one of the only fashion weeks to host a full physical program for the upcoming season, following Taipei's in March. Launched in 2003 to a relatively underwhelmed response from the industry, the biannual event is now an important date on the fashion calendar -- even before Covid-19 made it one of the only places to see new collections in person.
A handful of international brands participated this season, though Shanghai Fashion Week is still very much made in China and made for China. Across the eight-day program, homegrown labels were responsible for the majority of the 100-plus runway shows showing at four venues across the city.
The week's main venue, which can accommodate hundreds of guests in the upmarket Xintiandi district, saw presentations by established Chinese brands such as Comme Moi and Dawei. Smaller venues at the West Bund district, Shanghai's new arts and culture hub, meanwhile hosted emerging designers likes Angel Chen, whose colorful and celebratory designs merge Eastern and Western aesthetics.
Has Brexit Changed London Fashion Week Forever?
Whether it was the initiatives launched to support London designers or the various celebrations of the city’s multicultural spirit, the shadow of Brexit was impossible to ignore.The first post-Brexit London Fashion Week kicked off last Friday, with hopes that it might go some way to answering that question within the context of fashion. Because even after many weeks of coming to terms with the aftermath of Brexit, the future of the country’s largest creative industry—one estimated to contribute around £35 billion to the GDP annually—still hangs in the balance.
The aforementioned Private Policy is also juggling cultural influences. Founded by Chinese designers but based in New York, the label's latest collection, which debuted Thursday evening, alludes to the experiences of America's 19th-century Chinese immigrants and, by extension, the recent surge in hate crimes targeted against Asian Americans.
Dressed in wide-brimmed fisherman-style hats, body-hugging Qipao dresses and cowboy boots, models walked purposefully down the runway. Dominant colors of gray and black came alive with pops of bubblegum pink and mint, making the whole collection distinctive but ready for everyday closets.
Giorgio Armani on Fashion’s Future—And Why He’s Not Slowing Down
Still thriving after a five-decade career, Giorgio Armani, in a rare interview, speaks from the heart about an industry he loves—and how it needs to change.“I’m ready for the runway, and I don’t have the clothes,” Mr. Armani says in his office, surrounded by portraits of himself, during his first in-person interview since the coronavirus paralyzed both his industry and his hometown of Milan more than a year ago. In another, the 86-year-old says, he dreams he is the central character of a play and starts singing. And then there is the recurring nightmare—Mr. Armani perched on a cliff edge over a daunting precipice—that has haunted him throughout the pandemic.
The show also marked something of a homecoming for the brand, which is known for combining timely social issues with club-kid fashion. And while Covid-19 has presented unexpected challenges, it also provided co-founders Haoran Li and Siying Qu with an opportunity to test out the market in their home country.
"Returning to the market is a very important and meaningful move for us," Li said in a phone interview, adding that Covid-19 has even stoked new demand in the country. "It may be because many buyers can't travel (overseas to shop), so sales are being repatriated back to China."
Those sales are, increasingly, digital. In mainland China, online retail -- in all sectors, not just fashion -- experienced ain 2020 on the previous year, according to the country's National Bureau of Statistics. But livestreamed e-commerce -- whereby vendors broadcast interactive shopping experiences to, mostly, mobile devices -- grew by over 120% in the same period, the market research firm iiMedia Research . (Indeed, Shanghai Fashion Week kicked off last Tuesday with an online session hosted by famous livestreamer Jiaqi "Austin" Li that was watched by over 10 million viewers, according to the event's co-organizer, Labelhood).
Where Will Fashion’s Next Big Star Come From?
A new wave of industry prizes are designed to provide infrastructure, rather than just accolades.In recent years, the LVMH Prize has been one such star-spotting mechanism. The annual accolade, bestowed by the luxury conglomerate of the same name, has become a reliable way to celebrate and support fashion’s most significant new talents, and it has reliably the industry’s most buzzed-about emerging designers: Hood By Air won the inaugural prize, in 2014, and Thebe Magugu, Grace Wales Bonner, and Marine Serre are all recent winners.
So, although Private Policy has seen the number of Chinese boutique and department stores carrying its products jump from 15 to 40 since early 2020, the design duo has also been exploring new online sales strategies since returning to China last August.
"I'm learning new things every day," Li said. "We are now trying to explore direct-to-consumer channels in China. There are so many platforms, from (the e-commerce platform) Tmall to (the social media service) Little Red Book, in such a diverse environment."
Shanghai Fashion Week is also shining a spotlight on up-and-coming designers thanks, in part, to a collaboration with Labelhood, a platform that nurtures emerging young talent. Among them is Louis Shengtao Chen, one of 12 young talents to make their runway debuts at this season's shows, according to a statement from fashion week organizers.
The 24-year-old has recently decided to put his master's degree, at London's prestigious Central Saint Martin's, on hold in order to focus on his eponymous label, which is just three months old.
"It's very tough to grow from a student to a director of a brand within such a short period," he said in a phone interview during Shanghai Fashion Week, as he completed the final touches of his display booth.
With Rodarte, Telfar, Brandon Maxwell, and More, New York Fashion Week is Back and Better Than Ever
Dozens of designers are returning and joining New York Fashion Week for its spring 2022 season this September, from Thom Browne and Pyer Moss to Dundas and Telfar.Teflar, Rodarte, Proenza Schouler, Altuzarra, Brandon Maxwell, Prabal Gurung, Sergio Hudson, Monse, Jason Wu, LaQuan Smith, and Markarian will all present collections as a part of NYFW: The Shows, the Fashion Week programming organized by IMG and sponsored by Afterpay.
"After founding the brand in January, I had so many basic questions: Who's going to sew these clothes for me? Where does my material come from? How am I going to learn about budgeting, production and pricing? I've never done these things."
Among the 35 looks in Chen's intimate debut collection, which showed on Sunday, were jackets rich in lace-heavy detailing, a leather handbag in the shape of a cone and latex dresses featuring recycled car parts. He called the collection "Debutante," alluding both to his runway inauguration and his brand's focus on womenswear.
Despite the focus on emerging designers like Chen, there were also plenty of big-name appearances. On Friday, Taiwanese-Canadian fashion designer Jason Wu showed his Spring 2021 collection, which combined joyful magentas, yellows and lavenders in flowy pants and jumpsuits inspired by vacations to Tulum, in Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula.
Then on Monday evening, Dior debuted its Fall 2021 ready-to-wear collection, inspired by pop art and new futurism, at Shanghai's Long Museum, just months after launching a men's collection in Beijing. In a sign of the times, the line will be made available on e-commerce and streaming platforms including WeChat, Bilibili and the Chinese version of TikTok, Douyin.
"Moving to China is kind of an unavoidable tendency in the world right now," said Shaway Yeh, founder of creative agency Yehyehyeh and an influential figure in Chinese fashion media, via WeChat. "China has become the only market that's still vibrant (in the wake of) the pandemic."
The Best-Dressed Models, Editors, and Designers at Men’s Fashion Week Share the Stories Behind Their Looks .
Ahead of the spring 2022 menswear shows, 8 of the industry’s most stylish guys shared the stories behind their best street style looks and told us what they’re excited to wear next.The shift is best represented by a handful of well-dressed guys: models like Alton Mason and Xu Meen, designers such as Charles Jeffrey, and editors including Mobolaji Dawodu, Yu Masui, Ben Cobb, Luke Jefferson Day, and Blake Abbie. As evidenced by the photos here, each one has a completely different approach to getting dressed and is rarely influenced by “trends” or what’s selling online. Their looks feel intuitive and genuine, exactly what personal style is supposed to be.