Fashion in China Mapping | DutchDFA

DutchDFA Fashion in China Report | MovingCities, 2012

About the Fashion in China Report

The DutchDFA Fashion in China Mapping report, commissioned by Dutch Design Fashion Architecture [DutchDFA], presents an analysis of fashion design in China. Researched and written in 2011 by MovingCities, and edited in 2012, its objective is to provide insight into the ideas, work and dilemmas of a selection of Chinese fashion designers, as well as to map out the structure of the Chinese fashion industry and identify key elements and opportunities. Based on 15+ interviews with leading Chinese fashion designers and desktop research, this report surveys the work and careers of the designers in China that will influence tomorrow’s fashion agenda, both in China and the world. It also presents opportunities for Dutch fashion professionals aiming to work in the Chinese fashion industry.

Mappings on fashion (and design) in China

Featured Chinese FASHION DESIGNERS & Scholars

  • Aric CHEN 陈伯康 [Beijing Design Week 北京国际设计周 Beijing]*
  • Nels FRYE 费志远 [STYLITES Beijing]*
  • Maple JIANG 江枫 [VISION magazine 青年视觉 Beijing]*
  • Jenny JI 吉承 [LA VIE Design Studio Shanghai]
  • JIANG Qiong Er 蒋琼尔 [SHANG XIA 上下 Shanghai]
  • LIANG Zi 梁子 & HUANG ZhiHua 黄志华 [TANGY 天意 / LIANGZI Fashion 梁子时装实业 Shenzhen]
  • LIU XiaoGang 刘晓刚 [Donghua U. FASHION INSTITUTE 东华大学服装艺术设计学院 Shanghai]*
  • LIU Yang 刘洋 w/ Dragon [LIU YANG Art & Production 广东刘洋艺术创作有限公司 Guangzhou]
  • Augustus MENG 孟祥千 [JWAS Group 若思时尚文化发展有限公司 / masstelà Beijing]
  • QIU Hao 邱昊 [QIUHAO Shanghai]
  • Frain WANG 王逢陈 [FengChen Wang Beijing]
  • Uma WANG 王汁 [UMA WANG Shanghai]
  • Vega WANG 王在实 [Vega Zaishi WANG Beijing]
  • WANG YiYang 王一扬 [ZUCZUG 素然 / chagang 茶缸 Shanghai]
  • ZHANG Chi 张弛 [CHI ZHANG Beijing]
  • ZHANG Da 张达 [PARALEL Design Studio / BOUNDLESS / SHANG XIA Shanghai/Beijing]
  • Xander ZHOU 周祥宇 [XANDER ZHOU Beijing]

Introduction to the Fashion in China Mapping report

China has long been known as the world leader of garment manufacturing and as a clothing production powerhouse. As the overall idea of the development of the creative and cultural industries in China is to transition from a ‘made in China’-image to a ‘created in China’- identity, there is a focus on modernizing the Chinese fashion industry and its international image. As the world’s biggest market, China is a battlefield where global and local apparel and international luxury brands fight to establish their positions, and compete with (younger) Chinese domestic brands. Today, Chinese fashion has the ambition to grow beyond the domestic economy and culture: China, both as market, and as inspiration, is becoming a crucial player in the global fashion world.

Noticeably, Chinese fashion designers are trying to find a balance between modern and traditional lifestyles, between ambitions to create ready-to-wear, luxury and couture. These independent designers, oftentimes operating from small-scale studios, can work for the mass-market or opt to explore individual tastes and styles. Fashion is currently taken as fast flight forward in China. There are several reasons for this: a growing economy, a return from various international fashion schools of freshly graduated young and Chinese designers with an international outlook and experience, an expanding media coverage, the importance of new media in terms of dissemination of the latest trends and styles and the heightened interest of foreign fashion designers to operate in and for the Chinese market.

Once a country producing fashion and apparel for others – ‘the factory of the world’ – China has become a fashion consuming nation, and one of the world’s most promising markets. This report starts with selective highlights of the main fashion developments in China during the past century, and links them to the social, cultural and economic transformations of the country. Fashion has been growing as a significant symbol of China’s political culture in the 20th century; recently, it has artistically let loose and is developing in diverse stylistic directions. In recent years, new types of shops have begun to focus on Chinese fashion: shops that offer the work of a broad range of designers, pop-up shops and small markets for vintage are becoming popular in cities like Beijing and Shanghai.

Condensing China’s Fashion Industry into One Report

The report is set up to provide, in 11 chapters, a general introduction to the development of fashion in China. Chapter 2 provides an overview of the changes in clothing styles in China during the 20th century, highlighting the relation between political and fashion regimes. Chapters 3 and 4 introduce the notion of a search for a distinct and contemporary Chinese fashion style and the competition between Beijing and Shanghai, as reflected in the work of different generations of designers and presented in fashion weeks. Chapter 5 discusses the rise of fashion media, Chapter 6 gives an overview of educational reform, discusses the experience of foreign education and lists China’s leading fashion schools. Chapters 7 and 8 introduce both the large-scale apparel enterprises and fashion organizations. They go on to document the different market entries for foreign brands in China, and to outline independent designers’ views on their roles in society and their explorations into ecological production. Chapter 9 examines the challenges independent designers face in bringing their products both to mass-markets and individual buyers, discussing the relation between confection and couture. Finally, Chapter 10 discusses a few trending topics such as luxury, men’s wear and foreign fashion exhibitions in China. Chapter 11 wraps up this investigation.

About Dutch Design Fashion Architecture

Dutch Design Fashion Architecture [DutchDFA] aims to strengthen the international position of the most prominent sectors of the Dutch creative industries – design, fashion and architecture – through a joined-up approach. The four-year strategic meme (2009–2012) involves a selection of focus countries (India, China, Germany and Turkey) and relates to topical issues and local demands. Its aim is to build long-lasting international partnerships while addressing issues facing today’s world through design.

About MovingCities

MovingCities is a Shanghai-based think-tank investigating the role of architecture and urbanism in shaping the contemporary city. Established in 2007 by Bert de Muynck [BE] and Mónica Carriço [PT], MovingCities operates as embedded architects – publishing, researching, collaborating and interacting. Specialized in bridging China and the world, MovingCities offers urban consultancy in the fields of architecture, design and the creative industries, in the public and cultural institutional sectors. It has conducted research, lectures and workshops in China, Israel, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland and Indonesia. Amongst others, MovingCities has set up programs for the Netherlands Architecture Institute [NAi], DutchDFA and the Finnish Association of Architects [SAFA/NewlyDrawn] in China.


Content | MovingCities, Shanghai, China: Bert de Muynck & Mónica Carriço
Editorial Supervision & Coordination | Carolien van Tilburg
Editing | Jennifer Sigler
Graphic Design | Cover: Thonik, Amsterdam / Inside: CO3, Amsterdam
Commissioned by | Dutch Design Fashion Architecture, Rotterdam


MovingCities wishes to thank the following people for their support, assistance, critique and sharing of knowledge in creating this report: Vivian YU Tianzheng 于天正, Yvonne WANG Yi 王祎, HU Bingyu 胡冰玉, JIA Huishu 贾慧姝; Christine de Baan, Marie-Anne Souloumiac, Elyne van Rijn, Carolien van Tilburg, Machtelt Schelling, Inge Wesseling, Vanessa E. de Groot, Teun Hompe.

For further inquiries, updates, background, interviews and lectures related to
China Mapping Reports contact MovingCities: info [at] movingcities [dot] org

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