Spot­light­ing lo­cal tal­ent through MODE

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - By XU JUNQIAN in Shang­hai

xu­jun­qian@chi­nadaily. com.cn

Shang­hai na­tive Gu Ji­ayi had never heard of home­grown de­signer brand Jade en Plus till one Satur­day af­ter­noon when she was mak­ing her way back to the of­fice for over­time work. The 28-year-old ac­coun­tant was stopped by a scalper who was at­tempt­ing to sell her a ticket to the brand’s fash­ion show and she man­aged to strike a bar­gain with the lat­ter, buy­ing the ticket for just 50 yuan ($8), less than what she had spent on her lunch.

Gu spent less than 30 min­utes in­side the black tent at the grounds of the Shang­hai Fash­ion Week, at­tend­ing her first ever fash­ion show, though she con­cluded that what she saw did not quite res­onate with her own style. She did, how­ever, post a few pic­tures of the show on her so­cial net­work, la­belling them as “the beau­ti­ful lit­tle things that bright­ened up a work­ing week­end”.

Founded in 2003, Shang­hai Fash­ion Week has be­come the most im­por­tant event on China’s fash­ion cal­en­dar and is at­tended by some of the world’s best known de­sign­ers who are try­ing to con­nect to the world’s po­ten­tially largest and fastest-grow­ing fash­ion mar­ket. This year, a to­tal of 50 brands and de­sign­ers from home and abroad have graced the nine-day event. Mark­ing the open­ing of the event was Ports 1961’s star-stud­ded de­but show in Shang­hai, which was at­tended by Amer­i­can model Ken­dall Jen­ner and re­al­ity show icon Paris Hil­ton.

But apart from celebrity sight­ings, or­ga­niz­ers also want peo­ple like Gu to know more about MODE, the of­fi­cial trade show for the event that is lo­cated in a 5,000-squareme­ter un­der­ground park­ing lot lo­cated a few blocks away from the main show tent.

Es­tab­lished dur­ing the pre­vi­ous edi­tion of Shang­hai Fash­ion Week, MODE is where buy­ers get to feel the fab­rics, talk to lo­cal de­sign­ers, and most im­por­tantly, place or­ders for the pieces that have caught their eye dur­ing the fash­ion shows. There were some 400 brands and de­sign­ers fea­tured at MODE this year, and it drew about 3,600 peo­ple in three days. How­ever, or­ga­niz­ers say the crowd is still mostly made up of buy­ers, dis­trib­u­tors and re­tail­ers.

Kate Zhou, the founder of her epony­mous fash­ion brand, said that MODE is an im­por­tant el­e­ment in Shang­hai Fash­ion Week as it pro­vides peo­ple with an av­enue to re­ally un­der­stand the

Con­sumers no longer care about the na­tion­al­ity (of de­sign­ers) nowa­days. Chi­nese de­sign­ers are also very cre­ative.”

Lorenzo Hadar,

owner of fash­ion bou­tique H. Lorenzo

cre­ations by lo­cal de­sign­ers.

“Emerg­ing de­sign­ers need a space for cus­tomers to ac­tu­ally see and try their pieces. That’s what on­line stores can­not of­fer and what brick- and- mor­tar stores could sur­vive the com­pe­ti­tion with,” said Zhou.

Faced with chal­lenges posed by e-com­merce and the vir­tual ex­pan­sion of over­seas shop­ping web­sites in China, do­mes­tic re­tail­ers have been strug­gling with slug­gish growth for years. Or­ga­niz­ers of MODE be­lieve their event has the abil­ity to change this as it raises more aware­ness about the cre­ativ­ity of lo­cal de­sign­ers, and can in turn drive peo­ple to stores to find out more.

“The first and sec­ond floors of Shang­hai’s depart­ment stores and shop­ping malls (usu­ally where the re­tail shops are lo­cated) have been empty for years. MODE may be able to change the sit­u­a­tion and save the re­tail scene,” said Du Wenxia, a staff of the Shang­hai In­ter­na­tional Fash­ion Cen­ter that or­ga­nizes the event twice a year.

Lorenzo Hadar, owner of West Hol­ly­wood’s famed multi-la­bel fash­ion bou­tique, H. Lorenzo, added that the only thing Chi­nese de­sign­ers need to re­mem­ber is that “less is more”. Oth­er­wise, he be­lieves that it is just a mat­ter of time be­fore Chi­nese peo­ple and even for­eign­ers be­gin to wear de­signed-by-China pieces.

“Con­sumers no longer care about the na­tion­al­ity (of de­sign­ers) nowa­days,” said Hadar. “Chi­nese de­sign­ers are also very cre­ative.”

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