SHANGHAI AND ITS ROLE
IN THE NEW FASHION WORLD
On April 7th, our New Fashion Salon was held here in DIIS to bring innovation and ideas to the current fashion industry. We gathered international fashion icons and industrial leaders, founders of domestic fashion brands, and fashionistas from our community together to discuss the current fashion development and future possibilities.
Simon Collins (Moderator)
Bao YiFeng 包一峰
Chen Peng 陈鹏
Shanghai integrates styles from all other fashion cities, and its inclusiveness provides for a rapid changing of fashion development. The discussion of the salon started with what represents Chinese design.
Designers in Shanghai don't seem to have such a problem with how to show Chinese elements in their designs.
Once a national media interviewed Masha and asked, "Why don't you have "dragons" and "phoenixes" in your designs?"
It was very early at the time, maybe many designers needed a symbolic element to explain who they are in a direct, intuitive way. In fact, the Japanese designers of that generation did well in self-expression. On the contrary, Japanese designers do not have this problem, which is to prove the Japanese culture and where they come from in their own designs. In fact, as you get to the global market, you need to understand what is contemporary China and that the cultural perspective is very important. Then the context of your design language will become clear.
I find in general, Chinese designers are particularly keen to reflect Chinese culture in their designs. But they miss the point that their design already comes with Chinese elements because of their background, so there is no need to repeatedly emphasize it in their design. If they want to go beyond the Chinese market, they don't need to prove what Chinese design is.
主持人Simon问Masha Ma和Chen Peng：
Host Simon asked Masha Ma and Chen Peng:
You've been living abroad for a while, how do the London and Paris fashion industries receive you as a Chinese designer?
The problem we faced was that when we were studying in London, we were often asked what the symbols of our country were. Or how to express our cultural background in our work. I think in our generation we don't particularly need to talk about our elements and culture. Fort example I am from Jingdezhen, a very traditional Chinese city, but I don't need to deliberately put blue and white porcelain elements into my work to prove that I am from there. On the contrary, the more we try to prove our cultural elements, the more we lack a certain degree of confidence in our culture. In my design work I express my culture naturally to show the points that interest me in my daily life, not to prove my cultural background.
As a Chinese designer, how do you present yourself on the Shanghai stage? Do you think about how to appeal to the domestic market when you create? How to show the traditional culture? Or how to integrate into the international market?
I actually used Chinese elements as a starting point when I did the first season of menswear. And I didn't face this problem when I was going to school in the U.S. No one would advocate for adding cultural elements to the work. It's like my womenswear release, which was totally inspired by a French diplomat in the 18th century, in whom I found a sense of identity. Regarding my view of traditional Chinese culture, I think it is a kind of subtle beauty. The cultural influence that we experience since childhood is enough to express our culture.
I hope the designers here will understand that we really don't need to prove our traditional culture and our Chinese elements in our design. Then we want to know what we can do here to empower Shanghai in relation to the arts and culture industry?
The real name of Shanghai Fashion Week is Shanghai International Fashion Culture Festival. It used to be a place where international designers brought their cutting-edge designs to Shanghai for display. But now in the past two years Shanghai has developed into a more dynamic venue than other fashion capitals, more suitable for young designers for long-term development.
Because not only many potential private fashion institutions such as LabelHood and OnTimeShow are responding positively, but also the government has made efforts to set the stage for Shanghai Fashion Week, and the Textile Industry Association is supporting it. Many foreign designers choose to come to Shanghai Fashion Week to launch their new shows. Foreign buyers also come here to order. Domestic and foreign emerging brands can be found in many large-scale department stores, fashion neighborhoods, buying stores, etc. This shows the global recognition of the Shanghai market and the optimism of this new fashion platform. Right here in the Design Innovation Institute Shanghai we are empowering the development of design and fashion in Shanghai. Because of events like this we have the opportunity to learn from the global fashion and design industry seniors to empower Shanghai's new fashion.
Then we should work harder at DIIS! (Audience laugh) Giovanni, Tomorrow is an international fashion platform from London that represents many global fashion brands and is also incubating some very promising emerging hip brands. As the head of the platform in Asia Pacific, what do you think you should do for Shanghai?
I agree with what Xiao Bao that Shanghai Fashion Week is already hot in the international arena. Now that the epidemic is finally over and China has opened its doors, I hope that Shanghai Fashion Week will showcase the top luxury brands to the domestic market. Through the rise of Shanghai Fashion Week we can also showcase many foreign designers and design brands to the domestic market through cooperation with Shanghai fashion organizations. To do fashion, design, and cultural exchange, and to achieve a real bridge between China and the world. Through this bridge the world can have a more comprehensive understanding of Chinese fashion and design culture.
Hadrian, as a Chinese designer, what do you think Shanghai Fashion Week and Fashion Development can do better?
For us emerging designers, the bridge that Giovanni hopes to build has more practical implications and advantages for our local designers to go international as well.
Voices from the audience
I come from the textile industry, how can you as designers help to make some connections and contributions to the textile, fabric design side of China?
First of all, 100% of the materials used by our brand are from China. They are designed to be made into beautiful ready-to-wear and sold worldwide. However one problem is that the volume of many young designer orders is not big enough for a large fabric company to cooperate with them. Chinese fabrics are good enough for the middle to upper level in the international arena. Many Chinese textile companies are producing fabrics for global mass market fashion. There is some support for smaller brands like us, for example the fabric library in Hangzhou, but it would be good if they can give domestic and international designers better support.
That's a good question, not only for the bottom of the textile industry but also for the decline of the entire Chinese textile industry. It goes back to what we just said, the question of whether a brand needs an oriental language or not. If you are a designer, you don't need to think about it; if you are a design brand, you need to think less about it; but if you want to be a brand of excellence worldwide, you need to solve this problem. Whether from creativity, fabric, production, promotion, retail, every aspect you need to solve this problem. Cultural confidence is not something you give yourself; it comes from the recognition of others. Chen Peng is right, the textile maker with R & D capability cannot do trial and error with small brands. But this year many new dynamics emerge, designers also need to find ways to develop the possibility of new sales platform, to try to meet the quantities required for domestic fabric makers. Fabric makers also need to work on the unit price reduction. With both sides working together it is possible to succeed with multiple channels. Recently a well-known Italian fabric merchant came to me, they are a fabric supplier to many international luxury brands. After the three year epidemic they made a lot of changes, they tried a lot of ne fabric styles they have never tried, even on the supply chain side they made a huge change. Domestic textile enterprises should also put more energy and thought into innovation. This is also a kind of inspiration and promotion for domestic designers.
Giovanni you have opened a very high-end buyer’s store in Shanghai, do you have any Chinese designer brands in the store? If so, what made you decide to choose them? If not, what do they need to do to be chosen?
Yes, we have a selection of Chinese designer brands, and it's a decision made by the buyers. When we select Chinese brands, they use the same guidelines as for any other brand, an international vision is needed. For us, the most important thing is whether the design innovation is in line with our brand positioning. It’s never a blind obsession with a certain culture. Of course, there are also factors such as trendiness, price, collection, and sales. Finally, we welcome young and emerging design brands from all over the world to join us. True talent has no borders.
问设计师 - 光靠线下推广无法生存，自主设计师怎样去平衡线上直播对品牌的影响？
Designer - How can independent designers balance the impact of online promoting of their brands when offline promotion alone cannot survive?
Live streaming is a channel for brands to create more benefits and reach a larger audience. Before the live broadcast and the platform and broadcasters to talk about the distribution of profit ratio, not to reduce the value of the brand.
问包老师 - 传统媒体和新媒体之间怎样用不同方式去做品牌推广？
Bao YiFeng - How to do brand promotion in different ways between traditional media and new media?
I have to look at the positioning of the whole brand. Luxury goods doing live streaming are still doing strategic promotion with the idea of branding, not sales. From the perspective of PR, after the brand is built and perfected, then consider whether live streaming can empower the brand. Sometimes it is necessary to combine the brand's own supply chain capabilities to answer this question, before the live broadcast, to assess the supply capacity, not to fight unprepared battles. Having a Star promote your product on Livestream may not be suitable for every brand. This may become the brand's "time bomb".
When celebrities started wearing your brand, what kind of impact did it have on you?
he celebrity effect can stimulate short-term sales, but in the long run it’s more important for designers to understand what is their brand DNA.
Objectively speaking, Chinese market is too obsessed with KOLs and celebrities. Brands should plan for the long term and not just look at the immediate benefits, and they must develop their own brand identity if they want to last.
What do our speakers think about virtual fashion in the metaverse?
Virtual fashion shouldn't be called fashion. It can't replace the real fashion industry. You can be the king of fashion in the virtual world, but still look like a mess in reality. Virtual fashion can be a tool to showcase fashion, but it's only a tool.
After two hours of spirited conversation and information sharing the New Fashion Salon came to a close with wine and personal introductions. The audience stayed till the sun went down and the lights came on. This New Fashion Salon at DIIS will make a substantial and meaningful contribution to the development of new fashion in Shanghai and China. The next one is being planned for May.
Free to access the live playback！