Our Top 5 Moments from Shanghai Fashion Week
Abandoned warehouses transformed into a paradise for the young and loud peacocks to show their full force, Shanghai Fashion Week this year commenced with a spirit of youth and empowering under the April rain. TOTEM COLLECTIVE was on the ground to check out the what some of the most promising emerging or established Chinese designers had to say. And came back with a brain full of surprises.
The Chinese fashion scene is booming, with strong collections shown by the new generation who all studied at top schools in Paris, London or New York, many of them have, in fact, already shown in Europe not long ago. Bringing a spirit of “home-grown” power back home, the new gen designers are uniting together, under the support of quickly maturing showroom or show space such as Labelhood, OnTime and Tube, a powerful energy gathered quickly in this relatively young fashion week.
Here are some of our top 5 favorites moments during Shanghai Fashion Week, and why we were inspired by them:
Sankuanz x Supermafia “Devolution”
Sankuanz, being one of China’s earliest and most well-known “new gen” designer, he has championed in commercializing his abstract concepts and making exceptional collaborations with artists and brands. The 17 Spring Summer collection aimed to discover the relations between human and space, and he collaborated with Swiss artist duo “Supermafia/ENCOR Studio” to build up a “Sankuanz Church” in the middle of OnTime showroom. On the evening of the 18th, the artist duo created a swinging light installation art show, which took our breaths away. The mystic and almost sacred movements, so seemingly natural yet calculated, gives us the illusion of human devolutionized into machines, and machines evolved into a new god (which it has to some extend). Combining with the powerful sound and the crowd so quietly sitting around the swing, it was a night to remember, with much thoughts to process afterwards.
Like many other brands recently, Sans Titre chose to showcase their new collection in an exhibition. The space they constructed created an astronomic feel that takes us to a space where gravity becomes ambiguous. The orange floating bubble installation in the middle added a fluid and almost bizarre flow to the environment. The cut through of the walls invites us to peek into the models standing behind, and gives us a feel of lurking, almost as if we are secretly looking into the world outside. In the entirely white and cold walls appears a line of pastel colored suits, each with its own relaxed and deconstructed silhouette, making the men looking powerful, yet elegantly relaxed.
The ethos of FFIXXED STUDIOS is about dressing comfortably. The Australian designer duo resides in a quiet little village deep in the Wutong mountain of China’s coastal city Shenzhen, which is an hour away from Hong Kong. This pretty unusual set up of the studio can already speak for the brand itself that it aims to follow no norms. After showing in Paris not long ago, FFIXXED STUDIOS brought their signature wrap-around skirts, thick woven natural materials (which are all sustainable) and cool kid vibes to Shanghai, and echoed them with a acrylic screen installation paired with random melons on the floor to finish this creation.
Being based in Berlin and entrenched in the best and most hedonist night life (or many times day life too) in the world, it is not hard to guess what Ximon is thinking when the models stood out like statues at the entrance of Berghain, hair all wet and faces all sweaty. The theme “shame” which he explored in his latest collection played around the blurred boundaries of beauty and ugliness. A pearl on the nipple, see-through overalls made in soie and warrior-sharp silhouettes, paired with darkroom music and a tense environment, even the smell of urine leading up to the presentation reminded us of a wild night in Berlin. His transformation may seem overlooked, but the ambiance communicated clearly his source of inspiration, and his new discovery of fun after relocating from the money-washed bustling New York city.
Numero China x Vestoj Journal
“Serious Talk” Series
Editor-in-Chief of Numero China Karchun Leung and Edior-in-Chief of Fashion Intelligence journal Vestoj Anja Aronowsky Cronberg held three talks throughout the fashion week agenda to discuss some serious topics concerning the industry today. The second day, designer Momo Wang from Museum of Friendship, a quickly emerging womenswear brand that has taken the hearts of many younger female audiences in China, and Chinese designer Yang Li were invited to the second talk exploring whether fashion can or should be democratic. The talk further extending to whether creating the exclusivity of brands is still relevant today, or appealing to a mass audience is more democratic. The importance of social media usage also took the patron of the discussion, with Museum of Friendship being on the more digital-savvy end in creating a personal voice for its community, breaking the traditional fashion system of showing and only using media to communicate its ideas broader； Yang Li, on the other hand, is one of the earlier adapters in the classical fashion eco-system, by showing in Paris every season and selling through buyer stores around the world, it holds a more discreet nature of a luxury brand. It seems like desire, allure and illusion that brands need to create, is moving towards making customers feel like they are included in a sort of sub-culture today, as the mass marketing approach seems to fail on the younger generation who is constantly exposed to all subcultures around the world, and most of them pick certain elements to compile their very own identity.
Labelhood is home to some of the most promising and well-known Chinese designers during Shanghai Fashion Week with shows, exhibitions, talks and afterparties constantly going on.
Throughout fashion week, one spirit we noticed very often is that many designers, having had the overseas experience, are moving away from copying or bringing the west to China, to using these tools they learned and create from their very own local experiences or culture.
One example would be Momo Wang from Museum of Friendship, a quickly emerging womenswear brand that has taken the hearts of many younger female audiences, and developed a strong community through its online presence. Momo talked about being asked what “youth culture” and “adolescence” is when she was studying at Central Saint Martins. For her UK classmates, it was drugs, sex and alcohol. But for her, a girl from a third-tier Chinese city, it was skipping schools to go chat with strangers online at internet bars. That was her initial definitions of “bad kids”. Taking these very personal experiences from China, and using the skillset she learned to realize it has made Chinese designers much more interesting to watch today, as they provide a fresh new perspective or even a tool to educate cultural differences.
But at the moment, Shanghai is a place to look at in East Asia for sure. With the increasing amount of local designers who made it abroad coming home for the domestic market, while at the same time getting fresh new inspirations from the places they go, the eco-system has become young people not only wanting to explore elements of their own origin or culture, but at the same time not to be only recognized as a “Chinese designer”, but a designer with no nationality. The next step of “Made in China” is slowly being pushed towards a better and more powerful “Design in China”, and the world awaits to see.