From im­i­ta­tors to fash­ion in­no­va­tors

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS -

HANGZHOU — For Chi­nese fash­ion­istas, a new party dress can be a huge pur­chase, but the in­ter­net is mak­ing it eas­ier to dress sharp with­out a big price tag or long-term com­mit­ment.

Dora’s Dream, a women’s cloth­ing startup, runs a sub­scrip­tion-based ser­vice that al­lows style-con­scious Chi­nese to bor­row de­signer clothes with just a small monthly pay­ment.

The clothes-shar­ing ser­vice gen­er­ated buzz last month at the 2017 Asia Fash­ion Fed­er­a­tion China Con­fer­ence held in Hangzhou in East China’s Zhe­jiang prov­ince, where fash­ion de­sign­ers from Asia gath­ered to dis­cuss the lat­est in­dus­try trends.

One of those trends, said Chen Dapeng, vice-di­rec­tor of the China Na­tional Tex­tile and Ap­parel Coun­cil, was the in­te­gra­tion of the on­line and fash­ion in­dus­tries in China.

“The in­ter­net has en­abled con­sumers to have their own def­i­ni­tions of ‘fash­ion’ and al­lowed them to par­tic­i­pate in de­sign,” Chen said. “Fash­ion is be­com­ing more and more per­son­al­ized.”

As Chi­nese man­u­fac­tur­ers try to move up the value chain as part of the coun­try’s “Made in China 2025” plan, de­sign­ers in China are working to rein­vent them­selves from mere im­i­ta­tors to in­no­va­tors.

Un­like in France or Italy, China’s fash­ion in­dus­try took off around the same time as the de­vel­op­ment of the in­ter­net, which made it eas­ier for in­dus­try in­sid­ers to have an “in­ter­net mind­set” and com­puter skills, ex­perts said.

Ac­cord­ing to Chen, tech­nol­ogy will help fash­ion de­sign­ers with tai­lored mar­ket­ing and flex­i­ble pro­duc­tion, mak­ing per­son­al­ized cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ences pos­si­ble.

De­sign­ers in China are also ex­per­i­ment­ing with a mix of de­sign and life­style by open­ing spa­ces that of­fer cof­fee, books, ex­hi­bi­tions and clothes.

“In­stead of just sell­ing prod­ucts or ser­vices, Chi­nese fash­ion com­pa­nies are now also sell­ing cul­ture,” said Zhang Qinghui, pres­i­dent of the China Fash­ion As­so­ci­a­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to Zhang, China’s strong man­u­fac­tur­ing power has laid a solid foun­da­tion for the de­vel­op­ment of the fash­ion in­dus­try, al­low­ing ideas to be ex­e­cuted and prod­ucts to be sold more ef­fi­ciently.

“Al­most ev­ery fash­ion cen­ter in the world has ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pa­bil­ity and sup­port re­sources. While it seems that fash­ion is a show­case of de­sign ca­pa­bil­ity, it also rep­re­sents the man­u­fac­tur­ing power of a coun­try,” Zhang said.

Ac­cord­ing to An­drea Bor­agno, CEO and chair­man of Al­can­tara, which makes a leather sub­sti­tute, Chi­nese de­sign­ers have made strides in re­cent years by shift­ing from copy­ing to de­vel­op­ing their own iden­ti­ties based on cre­ativ­ity and cul­ture.

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