Shen­zhen now in fash­ion

Young, vi­brant de­sign­ers from the south­ern Chi­nese city make their de­but at Mi­lan Fash­ion Week, re­ports

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI -

China’s young but vi­brant fash­ion in­dus­try was tra­di­tion­ally cen­tered in Shang­hai and Bei­jing, but now Shen­zhen is strut­ting its stuff on in­ter­na­tional cat­walks.

A raft of la­bels from the south­ern Chi­nese city made their Mi­lan Fash­ion Week de­buts this year, in­clud­ing pret- a- porter brand El­las­say, Xie Haip­ing and La Par­gay.

Work by 18 young Shen­zhen de­sign­ers was also show­cased on Mi­lan’s cat­walks, in an event or­ga­nized by the non­profit Shen­zhen Gar­ment In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion.

The show in late Septem­ber comes after Shen­zhen la­bels were fea­tured at the Lon­don and New York fash­ion weeks, and amid a grow­ing in­ter­na­tional ap­petite for qual­ity made-in-China goods.

Shen­zhen’s cre­ativ­ity will be part of the Mi­lan event ev­ery year from now on, said Francesco Fiordelli, an Ital­ian de­signer and am­bas­sador for the Shen­zhen gar­ment in­dus­try in Europe. He added, “Mi­lan means in­ter­na­tion­al­iza­tion and vis­i­bil­ity.”

China’s fash­ion tex­tile sec­tor has been “ex­tremely lively” since the new gov­ern­ment poli­cies made the sec­tor “ab­so­lutely strate­gic,” added Fiordelli.

“The in­dus­try (in Shen­zhen) has de­vel­oped over the past five years, at an in­crease of 37 per­cent,” he said.

“Specif­i­cally, sales of women’s cloth­ing brands in China have risen more than 26 per­cent, while footwear and ac­ces­sories are up more than 41 per­cent.”

Women’s brands now have sub­stan­tial mar­ket power, Fiordelli said, ex­plain­ing that women's gar­ments ac­count for 85 per­cent of pro­duc­tion in the city, which is also home to 85 per­cent of Chi­nese women’s fash­ion com­pa­nies.

“Shen­zhen is the most im­por­tant women’s gar­ment-pro­duc­ing dis­trict in China,” as it has shaped an en­tire sup­ply chain, stretch­ing from fab­ric pro­duc­tion to dis­tri­bu­tion, he added.

The city is home to 3,500 cloth­ing brands and 15,000 de­sign­ers, mostly in Dalang Fash­ion Val­ley. It is also known as the Chi­nese cap­i­tal of in­te­rior de­sign.

“Work­ing on the in­ter­na­tion­al­iza­tion of Shen­zhen brands is my life’s mis­sion,” said Shen Yong­fang, pres­i­dent of the Shen­zhen Gar­ment In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion, which along with pro­mot­ing brands works to pro­tect trade­marks and other in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty against cheap, unau­tho­rized knock­offs.

Over the years, Shen has in­vited many Eu­ro­pean ex­perts to the city to build col­lab­o­ra­tive re­la­tion­ships with lo­cal de­sign­ers.

She is also the founder the China In­ter­na­tional Brand Cloth­ing and Ac­ces­sories Fair, now in its 16th year, which at­tracts 1,200 ex­hibitors and about 5 mil­lion vis­i­tors to Shen­zhen. She also helped es­tab­lish the Shen­zhen Cloth­ing R&D Cen­ter and the Shen­zhen Cloth­ing and Gar­ment In­dus­try Clus­ter in the early 2000s.

“The brands in the clus­ter, such as Mar­is­frolg and Yinger Group, have ex­pe­ri­enced rapid growth in the past decade. They have achieved bil­lions of yuan in an­nual sales,” said Shen.

Mean­while, Shen said Chi­nese women can find true el­e­gance with­out hav­ing to wear Eu­ro­pean brands.

“They are al­ready be­hav­ing that way around the world,” she said.

“An el­e­gant woman may wear a pair of su­perb Fer­rag­amo shoes and a sim­ple qi­pao (tra­di­tional Chi­nese dress) made with our unique silk. And that’s it. Look at our first lady (Peng Liyuan); she is a model of el­e­gance.”

She is also con­fi­dent about the fu­ture de­vel­op­ment of Dalang Fash­ion Val­ley.

“China’s fash­ion in­dus­try is be­com­ing more in­ter­na­tional thanks to con­nec­tions and the reg­u­lar ex­changes of ex­per­tise, es­pe­cially from Europe, the birth­place of fash­ion,” said Shen.

“China is not only a big gar­ment coun­try. Soon, we will be­come a pow­er­ful gar­ment coun­try. Eth­nic and cul­tural el­e­ments are the source of fash­ion in­spi­ra­tion.”

Qu Xin, the mayor of Shen­zhen, said the city will con­tinue to sup­port the fash­ion in­dus­try and in­vest in the pro­duc­tion chain. Part of this ef­fort will be to train the next gen­er­a­tion of de­sign­ers and in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als, such as tai­lors, cut­ters and pat­tern mak­ers, said Qu.

“We have be­come the most cre­ative fash­ion hub in China,” said Qu.

“We’ll achieve the im­pos­si­ble by es­tab­lish­ing Shen­zhen as an in­ter­na­tional cen­ter and a pole of at­trac­tion through the de­vel­op­ment of a fash­ion city, along with con­sol­i­da­tion of the fash­ion week and the fash­ion fair.”

Ital­ian fash­ion academy Isti­tuto Marangoni has also opened a train­ing cen­ter in the city.

Shen­zhen, which neigh­bors Hong Kong, grew from a fish­ing vil­lage into a mod­ern me­trop­o­lis after for­mer leader Deng Xiaop­ing launched his re­form and open­ing-up poli­cies.

“Deng was the ‘fer­ry­man’ of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment,” said Shen.

“He nour­ished an eco­nomic boom that rad­i­cally im­proved the lives of ci­ti­zens. Shen­zhen to­day is a re­flec­tion of Deng’s ex­tra­or­di­nary vi­sion.”

We’ll achieve the im­pos­si­ble by es­tab­lish­ing Shen­zhen as an in­ter­na­tional cen­ter and a pole of at­trac­tion through the de­vel­op­ment of a fash­ion city.”

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Shen­zhen is grow­ing in pro­file as a city of fash­ion.

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