The intriguing and intrepid Shanghai scenario moves within a system based on bureaucracy in which creativity is regulated by rules and habits far removed from the Western fashion system.

It is curious how a world that is super-connected and fast can be so slow in its progression. Ironic, isn't it?


BAN XIAOXUE SS20 -  Shanghai Fashion Week

In 2001, the impact of fashion in other parts of the world finally took its toll on the Asian country, with the first Shanghai Fashion Week. Although the initiative seemed to be stalled in its early days, today it is like a tsunami wave that will invade closets, fashion calendars and social media before you know it. But today, Shanghai Fashion Week is like the one in Milan or Paris 25 years ago: unsophisticated and schematic.

We have to empathize with the country's socio-political situation, which plays a decisive role in bringing Shanghai closer to a world that is not part of its culture. Iconic European fashion, as a whole, is something that was born and developed over centuries, while the fashion week system evolved over mere decades, which is why most eyes are still looking today at the Italian and French DNA, which is still in the process of adaptation.

But if Shanghai, so advanced and futuristic, is as visionary in the development of its cities as it is in experimenting with new formulas that combine today's speed with the dreams of old school modern fashion, changing the format of presentations and economic models of business, it is very likely to achieve immense influence at the international level. Shanghai may have the necessary requirements to address the international fashion scene, mixing different cultures and habits.


Shuting Qiu SS20 — Shanghai Fashion Week (right) /  JUNWEI LIN design (left)

In a flourishing system like China's, unexpected ideas can easily arise, but it is important that these concepts are not contaminated or forced by Western institutions, media or companies. By correcting the mistakes of an obsolete and slow developing system like the Western one, the red giant could thus create a starting point in the development of a new mentality and perhaps, turn the screws and position itself as an innovative leader from which we probably have something to learn.

For many years there has been a preconceived idea about design and fashion in China, associating its designs with low quality clothing, buying and wholesaling and imitation. However, the Chinese society has dedicated itself to spending and investing in fashion. The purchasing power of Chinese citizens has changed in recent years and the purchase of higher quality items has also shifted to the fashion sector, where originality, personalization and the search for unique and different garments are paramount.


Leaf Xia Studio SS20 — Shanghai Fashion Week

The luxury sector has exploded: no matter what the cost of the garment is, if it is quality and different, they pay the cost. The growing Chinese middle class is eager to express its individuality through fashion. Consumers are increasingly willing to opt for quality products - something they can afford thanks to the significant increase in income in recent years - and the younger generations seem better able to withstand economic uncertainties, as they have a higher income than the previous generation. This is positive for the industry, as the millennia now represent 380 million people in the country.

The millennials are also characterised by their great optimism: 35% of young people aged between 18 and 29 expect a continuous increase in their income. According to estimates by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), urban consumption of millennials will increase to 2.6 billion dollars in 2021 (9% more than in 2011).


Ying Pei Studio Design

China retains its title as the fashion world’s most valuable player with its consumers taking care of a third of the world’s luxury market. Designers from all over the globe are heading to the East to be part of the spectacle and a new wave of Chinese designers has seen China grow into an increasingly influential design centre. We suspect that London, Paris, Milan and New York, known as the "Big Four", may be recruiting a fifth; Shanghai, which positions itself as the new, the technological, the development, "the new world" and now, the new dream of the fashion industry.

December 22, 2019 by Kim Lerona