Why China is Sitting on Fashion’s Front Row

Despite claims that Chinese fashion brands are struggling in the market compared to foreign luxury brands,  CNN reports Chinese designers are on the rise in the style capitals of the world, such as Paris and London. China accounts for more than a quarter of the global luxury market, with men accounting for more than half of the spending on luxury goods in China:

One of those hoping to show that the flow of sartorial capital not only goes from West to East, but also vice versa, is Haizhen Wang. Originally from Dalian in northeast China, he trained at Central Saint Martins in London, graduating in 2005. Wang then came to the attention of the fashion world last year after winning the Fashion Fringe Award for young designers and was mentored by Burberry’s chief creative officer, Christopher Bailey.

Like many of the emerging Chinese-born, Western-educated generation of designers, the influence of Wang’s home culture on his work is subtle. While his collection was inspired mainly by gothic architecture, Wang says his Chinese roots underlie everything he produces.

“Even if you can’t see any obvious Oriental influences, like dragons for example, across my pieces, the man who made this collection — me — is Chinese and that will always be there, even though I was trained in the West.”

Tom Ford, the designer and film director whose name is almost synonymous with luxury and style, says he is closely watching how Chinese consumers are maturing. Ford observes that — as in other emerging markets — China is moving away from the initial lust for designer logos that tends to characterise the newly rich. “Tastes become quite refined and equalized with the rest of the luxury consumer all over the world … I think that’s really starting to happen in China and it’s moving very quickly.”

See also China’s Street Fashion, an article profiling the Chinese street fashion brand, Eno, via CDT.