A new wave of Chinese designers sweeps the European fashion industry

At a time when China is turning towards its domestic market, the emergence of new Chinese designers, positioned at the top of the range, is not negligible. Especially since this young generation is challenging preconceived ideas about “made in China”, thus creating what can be called a “new wave”.

The mention of Chinese brands often generates negative perceptions, be they technical, ecological or ethical. It is to misunderstand the potential of this country, which has historical traditions in clothing, has become the factory of the world (and therefore knows how to manufacture) and represents an ideal target clientele for luxury brands (and therefore knows how to appreciate beautiful things).

“The pejorative aspect of Made in China and fast fashion have gradually made us forget that China is one of the first civilizations to develop true know-how in clothing,” said Jean-Loup Rebours, a young entrepreneur who has opened an agency dedicated to Chinese fashion. “Faxion was born out of a passion for China and its history, which is not well known in the West for political reasons (ideological rivalry between China and the West that makes cultural exchanges difficult). The idea is to offer them a platform because it is not easy to evolve only in the Parisian scene (language barrier, administrative obstacles, time differences, bureaucracy, etc.).

Today, Chinese designers are motivated by the desire to make their voices heard in the West and to enhance the value of Made in China through the promotion of Chinese crafts, philosophy and arts in fashion. This is achieved through incubators such as Labelhood.

Labelhood supports the development of emerging Chinese designers

Courtesy Faxion, Ruohan

According to a report by the strategic consultancy Eclair, broadcast by Jing Daily magazine, the power of luxury consumption in China has increased exponentially between 2011 and 2018. By 2025, China will account for roughly half of global luxury spending and nearly 80 percent. percent that spending will be for those under 40 years of age, with young people being the motor of fashion consumption. At the same time, there has been an average annual increase of 30 percent in the number of companies in Shanghai.

It is in this context that Labelhood was built. This self-proclaimed cultural community connects designers with young Chinese consumers through events, retail experiences, and brand incubation. With a staff of 70, Labelhood now has eight retail spaces, including the flagship, a VIP house and various pop-ups.

Labelhood showcases talent at Shanghai Fashion Week and Youtopia Festival, and runs Lab, a retail showroom that hosted thirty brands for fall/winter 2022/2023 collections. As an incubator, the community also works with international B2B and B2C counterparts such as Pitti Uomo, Tomorrow Group and Machine-A.

Ruohan: craftsmanship at the heart of a work process based on exceptional materials

Courtesy Faxion, Ruohan

A graduate of Parsons School of Design, Ruohan Nie founded her eponymous brand in March 2021, at a time when Covid restrictions were at their peak. “Although the pandemic was a pretty depressing time, it was an unprecedented opportunity,” she said. “We have had time to question and re-examine the production and creative processes. We are determined for the challenges we will face in the future.” Her main challenge is communication, accustomed to Chinese channels (social networks such as XiaoHongShu, Wechat and Weibo), she finds it difficult to express the subtleties of her minimalist style in Western media with the who is not familiar.

For the fall/winter 2023 season, Ruohan Nie has created a stir-fried silk fabric using a traditional Chinese silk-dyeing technique. Nie said: “We manipulated the fabric to achieve a ‘contemporary mud’ feel that ties in with the theme of the collection. We value craftsmanship and strive to apply it in every detail, to revalue and achieve a better version of craftsmanship in our time.”

At the SS22 Shanghai Fashion Week, Ruohan was awarded the Lane Crawford x Labelhood Scholarship and Entrepreneurial Performance Award. Her collection was selected to be shown in Harrods x Labelhood pop-ups in London and Shanghai. The brand has collaborated with more than 40 Chinese retailers and 16 boutiques in Europe, Japan and the US. It is also on the official calendar for Paris Fashion Week, which will be launched on March 2.

Peng Tai: From Trendy Chinese Herbal Medicine to Yin and Yang

Courtesy of Fashion, Peng Tai

Since its inception in October 2016, Peng Tai has used the five elements and the ideology of Huang-Lao Taoism as the core of the brand, constantly experimenting with new techniques to give clothing a different expression. Since 2017, the designer has been exploring Chinese herbalism and using herbal dyes such as gallnut, astragalus, mugwort (which some recommend as an anti-Covid treatment), sapan wood, and gardenia to give each garment a color and shape. unique.

Courtesy Faxion, Peng Tai

In 2019, Peng Tai launched the Medicine Room project and established a TCM laboratory in Pan’an, the county of origin of Chinese herbs, to investigate possible links between herbal dyeing, garment making, and healing. In the same year, the brand launched its first men’s collection. For his latest collection, Tai explored the philosophy of Yin and Yang: everything has the source of its own destruction. From here arises the source of movement and evolution.

rle: transforming textile waste into new collections

Courtesy of Faxion, rle

rle is a sustainable fashion brand founded in 2021 by Chinese designer Qixin (Cici) Zhang. The brand name is inspired by the word “rule” without the letter “u” (you), which stands for the brand’s message of “being yourself without limits or definition.” rle presented his AW23 collection at London Fashion Week on February 20. The brand’s product range includes women’s clothing, accessories and bags.

Like Tai, Cici felt the difficulty of understanding Western culture and the difference in human relationships. However, it was in Europe that she was able to meet the artists and friends whose open-mindedness inspired her to launch her brand.

For his creations, he has designed a wool from the elements discarded during the manufacturing process of certain pieces, and he hopes that the brand does not have waste. The designer is currently working on a machine that would transform any type of textile waste into a sustainable material to be implemented in the production of her next collections.

Weisheng Paris and the demand for new masculine codes

Courtesy of Faxion, Weisheng Paris

Taiwan-born Weisheng Wangn, a Paris-based menswear designer, wants to “break away from traditional codes of masculinity by creating feminine-looking pieces for men.” He believes that fashion cultivates self-confidence and should encourage people to be themselves and live without prejudice or fear.

Courtesy of Faxion, Weisheng Paris

Weisheng puts European know-how at the service of her creativity: she makes her embroidery with the Parisian workshop Safrane Cortambert, her jewelry with the Madrid jeweler Anton Heunis and collaborates with Italian down jackets. He also works with materials created in China, such as fiber optic fabric, which is powered by batteries and is flexible enough to make clothing or accessories. One of her dresses has gone viral on Twitter and TikTok.

Ruirui Deng: debut show to open Paris Fashion Week in March 2023

Time spent at Central Saint Martins University in 2015 and hands-on experience gained from his Burberry internship enabled London-based Rui Deng to found his eponymous brand in 2021, based on the mythology of alien mermaids coming to Earth to explore art and life.

All materials used are produced in China (including a signature lanyard featuring the brand’s designs) and then assembled in their London workshop. Although the high level of competition between Paris and China is in a difficult stage, Deng still appeared in Paris on February 26, 2023, as if to give Paris Fashion Week, which began on February 27, a shows what luxury could look like in the future. .

Courtesy of Faxion, RuiRui Deng presentation FW Paris March 2023

This article originally appeared on
FashionUnited.FR. Translation and editing by: Rachel Douglass.

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