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Many​ Chinese ​designers choose to take​ ​part​ ​in ​the revolution of fashion, upgrading​ ​the “Made In China”​ ​tag by ​integrating it​​ literally​ into their collections. Is the next chapter in the brand(ing) story? New York-based China fashion aficionada Jessica Laiter offers her opinions and ponders the inevitable… How does one move a fashion label onwards and upwards?

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Close-Up: About The Politics of Dressing and Passing a New Brand Bill

Although​ ​certain ​styles​ come​​ back​ ​to​ ​entertain​ (and,​ ​at times,​ “haunt”)​ ​us​ ​about​ ​every​ ​10 years​ ​or​ so,​ ​we​ indulge​ in​ ​the​ ​romance​ of​ ​this ​​cyclical​ ​occurrence ​​through​ the​ re-purposing​ ​of​ ​old​ ​styles​ ​executed ​​by​ ​new designers.​

Fashion​ is​ making way​ ​into​ ​new​ ​corners​ of​ ​the​ ​world,​ ​​spreading its​ lively​ tentacles​ into​ ​​undiscovered​ ​corners.​ Fashion… Is on the move. Perpetually​ in​ motion,​ ​always​ evolving, ​​​the​ ​real​ ​wringer becomes:

What​ ​drives​ ​the​ ​movement​ ​itself? 

SONGTA AT PITTI UOMO

China China China

Broken​ ​record?​ ​Nope.​ ​I​ ​mean what​​ I​​ say​​ and​ I​​ say​​ what​​ I​​ ​mean. Just​ think​​ how globalization​ ​has​ ​provided​ the creative commune with a perpetual​  incentive​ for​​  students,​ ​​artists, entrepreneurs,​ scientists​ ​, and​ ​other​ ​talented​ ​individuals​ ​to​ ​study ​​abroad with​ ​ ease,​ ​to​ ​ immerse​ themselves​ ​in​ ​alternative​ ​cultures, and​ ​to​ ​climb the international ladder​ ​of​​ success.​

Not​ ​to​ ​mention,​ it​ provides​ ​emerging​ ​markets​ ​with​ ​opulent opportunity​ ​to​ ​sing​ ​their​ ​unheard​ ​prose and praise.

So, one more time for the cheap(er) seats in the back: ​China!

Fabric Porn SS20, all rights reserved

Fabric Porn SS20, all rights reserved

Many​ ​would​ ​not​ ​view​ ​China​ ​as​ ​emerging.​ She is wide awake,​ given​​ the country’s​ financial​ ​and​​ economic​ ​successes in​ ​and​ ​impact​ ​on​ ​global ​business.​ Yet​​ once​ again,​ ​we​ ​only​ ​speak​ ​of​ ​the​ ​moolah​ ​market.​

Why​ ​don’t ​we​ ​talk​ ​about​ China’s​ creative players​ ​for​ ​a​ ​change?​

​As ​​of​ ​late,​ core Covid-19 induced ​shifts ​in​​ the​​ ​business model​​ surrounding​​ fashion​ week, from the physical to the digital realm, alterations​ ​in​ ​product​ ​distribution​ ​methods​ ​such as​ ​​the​ ​“See​ ​Now​, ​Buy ​​Now”​ ​model​ ​and “interference”​ ​from​ ​social​ ​media,​ ​are​ ​all​ ​having​ ​their own noticeable ​ repercussions​ on​ the​ global​ fashion​ ​market.​ ​

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How​ does​ that saying​ ​go, again?​ ​One​ ​ ​person’s trash​ is​ ​another​ person’s treasure? ​Not​ to​ say​ “​​fashion​ ​week”​ ​is​ ​metaphorical​ ​“trash”, ​​but ​​the​ ​truth​ ​of​ ​the​ matter is​ that​ ​emerging​ ​designers​ ​are​ ​filling in the​ ​gaps​ left wide open​​ by​ industry​ old-timers who​ ​ in turn are​ finding​ new​ routes​ ​to​ ​maneuver​ ​their​ ​place​ ​in​ ​the​ ​future​ ​fashion​ ​industry.

With​ ​the eyes​ ​laser-focused​ on​​ the​ sheer volume​​ of​ ​​Chinese ​designers taking up seat after seat around​ ​fashion​ week​ ​tables,​ ​we​ ​can’t​ ​help​ ​but​ ​wonder… What​ ​does​​ this​​ shift​ ​​imply for ​the​ ​future​ ​of​ ​our​ ​beloved​ ​fashion ​world and​ ​what, ​in​ the​ name​ ​of​​ Chanel and Chictopia, do​ Chinese​ ​designers​ ​have​ ​to​ ​do​ ​with​ ​it?

ROLLING ACID 2018

ROLLING ACID 2018

Divinity in Motion​     ​

From​ ​China​ ​to​ New​ ​York​ City to​ ​northern Europe,​ a​ ​massive​ flood​ of​ people​ ​are entering​ ​the​ ​international​ ​market​ ​as​ ​budding designers brimming with big dreams and simultaneously ​overwhelming​ ​the​ industry​ with​ ​fresh​ ​and​ ​innovative​ ​product​s ​from​ ​all​ ​over​ ​the​ ​world.​

​Fashion​ ​in​ ​China​  has taken ​off,​ but​ as of yet it still remains a (far) cry from being an​ ​industry​ ​of​ ​primary​ ​importance.​ ​Nonetheless,​ ​since​ ​many​ ​European and​ ​American​ ​designers ​have​ ​started​ (in non-social-distancing times) to distance themselves​ from ​official​ ​fashion​ week​ schedule​s and​ ​are​ ​​choosing​ ​to​ ​host​ ​their​ shows​​ ​at​ ​alternative ​​venues,​ ​plenty​ ​of​ ​space has opened up​ ​for​ ​newer​ designers​ who,​ ​mere months​ ago,​ ​could​​ only​​ ​dream of​ performing at​ ​such​ ​a​ ​high​-profile​ ​event.

If you know the song, just sing – or hummm — along! China.​ ​Fashion.​ ​China.​ ​Fashion.

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How ​do​ we​​ welcome​ ​these​​ China-made​ designers​ with​ ​open​ arms,​ ​​when ​we​ still​ hold​ ​such​ ​intense​ ​prejudice​ ​against​ that conspicuous ​and infamous Made In China label? ​ ​What​ is​​ it​ about​ ​this​ particular​ title​ that gets people all squirmy ​and​ ​uncomfortable, riled up even?​ ​​Whereas we are certainly well ​aware ​of​ ye staple fears​ ​regarding​ ​low​ quality​ ​and fake​ ​products, in​ ​the​ ​optimistic​ ​spirit​ ​of​ ​the​ ​future,​ ​we​ do still ​think​​ ​it’s​ ​worth taking​ a second​ ​look.​ ​

The​ ​apprehension ​of American​​ and​​ European​ consumers​ to​ purchase​ ​goods ​from​ Chinese​​ ​designers​ ​in this humble opinion simply ​stems​ ​from​ ​a​ ​lack​ ​of​ ​access ​​to​ ​the​ ​China market​ ​in​ ​general.

For​ ​designers​ to​ ​enter​ ​foreign​ markets​ alone,​ without​ a helping hand,​ ​is​ ​near impossible.​ ​Not​ ​that​ ​we​ ​lack​ ​faith​ ​in​ ​the​ ​designers’​ ​intelligence ​or​​ business​-savvy​ ​ways; it’s mainly the fact that​ ​selling​ ​to​ ​a​ ​market​ ​outside​ ​of​ ​the​ ​domestic​ ​domain requires​ more​ ​than​ ​simply savvy methodologies.​ ​This is one undertaking that ​requires​ ​patience,​ ​acute comprehension​ ​of​ the​ ​​target ​​culture​ , and​ a​ willingness​ ​to​ ​adapt.​ ​

Therefore,​ ​“All by myself” (once more, please do sing along) is one option that ​doesn’t fly;​ not​ ​ in​ ​ the​ ​ pursuit​ of​ ​optimal​ success, at least.​ It’s​ ​with​ ​a little​ ​help​ ​from your​ ​intermediary​ ​consultant friends​ ​and​ ​online​ ​KOL​s ​that​ ​this ​type​ ​of​​ transition​ is​ ​turned​ ​into​ ​a surmountable​ ​feat.

STAFFONLY VIC TIM

STAFFONLY VIC TIM Collection

Building an Empire

Dreams,​ ​no​ ​matter ​what​ ​type,​ ​are​ ​the​ ​best​​ form​ ​of​ ​​nourishment. One must, however, by no means ​ignore​ ​the​ ​urge ​to​ ​play​ ​Devil’s​ ​advocate and in such fashion, we ask… Are these​ ​dreams​ of​ ​China-made​ ​designers​ ​finding​ ​big international​ ​success​ wildly​ ​unrealistic?​ Over ​​the​ past number​ of​ ​years,​ we’ve ​witnessed​ a​ surge​ ​in​ ​Chinese​ ​designers​ ​graduating​ ​from​ prestigious design​ ​schools,​ interning​ at​ established​ ​luxury​ ​brands​ ​, and​ ​launching​ ​their eponymous labels.​ ​

Nonetheless, aside​ from ​​a​ ​twinkling​ ​interest​ ​in​ ​China’s​ ​new​ ​talent ​​(some​ of​ ​which still​ ​​need​ ​their​ seedlings​ to​ ​sprout in order​ ​for​ ​their​ ​brands​ ​to​ ​mature)​ ​from​ ​industry​ ​aficionados,​ ​a​ ​number ​of​ ​obstacles​ ​lie​s ​ahead,​ ​waiting​ ​to​ ​pounce​ ​at​ ​the​ ​very​ ​moment things​ ​seem​​ too​ ​easy​ ​or​ ​hopeful.​ This ​​includes ​finding​ a​ creative​ niche​​ for​ the intended market​ and ​getting​ accurate exposure​ ​in​ ​foreign​ ​countries.

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Temper​ ​spoke​ ​with​ ​New York-based Chinese​ ​fashion entrepreneur Vera​ ​Wang of WG​ Empire.​ The​ ​​intention?​ Bridging​​ ​gaps​ between​ Chinese and American​ ​brands​, as well as​​ ​eliminating​ ​cultural​ ​barriers​ ​that​ ​continue​ ​to​ ​prevent​ ​foreign market​ ​penetration.​ ​WG​ ​Empire​ ​provides​ ​its​ ​clients​ ​with​ ​the necessary​ resources​ and​ proper​ ​localized​ ​marketing​ ​strategies​ ​to​ ​effectively​ ​introduce ​and ​sell​ ​products​ in​ ​ the​ target​ ​market.​ ​The​ ​concept​ ​is​ ​so​ ​simple,​ ​yet​ ​the​ ​task​ at hand ​proves​ ​overwhelming –​ ​to​ ​the​ ​point where​ ​many​ ​companies​ ​are​ ​trying​ ​but​ ​failing.

WG​ ​Empire is​ ​more​ ​than​ ​just​ ​a​​ global​ ​PR​ ​company;​ it​​ is​ ​a​ ​team​​ of​ ​interpreters​ and creators.​ ​Given​ ​that​ ​the​ ​company​ ​is​ ​based​ ​in​ ​New​ ​York City,​ ​but​ ​has​ ​its roots​ ​grounded​ ​in​ ​China, the​ ​team ​is​ ​well​ ​-versed​ in​​  both​ ​ Chinese​ and​ ​American​ business​ practices​ and ​ cultures.​ They​ ​appeal​ ​to​ ​the​ ​target​ ​consumer​ in​ a​ ​clear​ ​and​ ​accessible​ ​way,​ ​appropriately “peacocking”​ ​the​ ​consumer​ ​and​ ​vying​ ​for​ ​their​ ​attention.

When​ it​ comes​ ​to​ ​helping brands​ ​​traverse​ ​the​ ​rocky terrain​ ​​into​ ​the​ great​​ ​unknown, having​ ​just​ ​a​ ​PR​ ​company ​on​​ your​ ​side​ is​ ​only​​ the​ beginning.​ Let’s​ ​welcome​ to​ ​the conversation​ ​that​ ​big ​three-letter​ word​​ everyone​​ ​is and has been ​buzzing​ about for the past decade:  KOL – that stands for “Key Opinion Leader”, in case you were still wondering anno 2020.​ From Sina Weibo to Little Red Book to Douyin, and Bili Bili:

They were, are, and remain your friends.

Angel Chen x H&M, courtesy of H&M

Angel Chen x H&M, courtesy of H&M

The Opinionated Topic

We ​know,​ ​we​ ​know.​ ​For many a layman, the question beckons still… What​ ​the​ deuce​ ​is​ ​a ​ KOL?​​ You​ ​may​ ​better​ ​know​ ​them​ ​as bloggers and/or media​ influencers. ​​They are​ ​some​ ​of​ ​the​ ​leading​ ​forces​ ​in​ ​the​ ​world​ ​of​ ​brand​ ​marketing.​ They​ are​ ​modern-day​ ​sales​ ​representatives and brands​ ​are​​ eagerly collaborating​ with​ them​ day​ ​and​ night,​ ​as​ ​a​ ​method​ to​ ​push​ ​their product​ ​in​ ​the​ ​most ​​integrative​ ​ways​ ​possible.

Decorating​ the​ ​World​ ​​Wide​ ​Web​ ​with​ ​their​ ​collages ​of​ ​high fashion​ ​photography,​ traveling​ ​escapades, and​ ​other​ ​indulgences,​ ​they​ ​communicate to​ ​ consumers​ from​ ​all​ over​ ​the​ ​world.​ ​Whether you’re pro or con,​ the purchasing power of influencers stretches well ​beyond what​ ​you​ ​can even​ ​imagine ​because​ ​now​ ​brands​ ​have​ found ​a​ ​voice ​as ​audiences are​ ​actively​​ ​listening to and​ relying​ ​on​ ​their​ ​every ​word of “sound fashion judgment”.​ ​

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They​ ​are​ ​real​ ​people​ ​leading ​lives​ ​to​ which​ ​ people​ ​ aspire and​ everyone​ ​wants​ ​what​ ​they​ ​have.​ ​KOL​s ​have within one decade become​ ​the​ ​new​ ​billboards,​ ​except​ ​for the fact they​ ​are​ ​living, breathing​ ​, and​ ​influencing.

Aside​ ​from​ ​the​ ​need ​for​ KOL​ ​assistance,​ according​ to​ WG​ ​Empire,​ there​ ​is​ ​one​​ other major​ ​obstacle ​​for​ ​those Chinese​ ​designers​ ​who​ ​struggle​ ​to​ ​enter​ ​the​ ​American ​markets, namely the​ ​inaccessibility​ ​to​ ​Western​ ​social​ ​media​ ​from​ ​within​ ​the​ ​borders​ ​of​ ​the ​ Middle Kingdom​ ​(which​ ​makes​ ​connecting​ ​with​ ​those​ ​bloggers​ ​a​ ​little more​ difficult,​ yet ever so very desirable). ​

With ​​the ​​help​ ​of​ ​Western ​​influencers,​ ​Chinese ​​designers ​are​​ able​​ to​ introduce their​ ​brands​ to​ markets​ with​​ ​never​-​before-held access​ ​to​ ​products​ from​ emerging​ ​markets,​ ​designers​ ​, and​ ​artists.

Courtesy of Private Policy, AW19

Courtesy of Private Policy, AW19

About Stigmata and Baptisms

No blasphemy intended. One​ ​of​ ​the​ ​bigger​ ​hurdles​ ​faced​ ​by​ ​Chinese ​designers, ​as​ ​ previously​ mentioned,​ is​ ​the​ stigma​ ​behind​ ​that “Made In China” brand.​ ​There​ ​are​ ​many​ ​designers​ choosing​ ​to​ ​be​ ​a part​ ​of​ ​the revolutionizing​ conversation,​ in unashamed​ ​​and​  ​unabashed manner. What’s more, ​they​ ​are​ ​actually adding​ ​value​ ​to​ ​the “Made In China”​ ​tag by ​ ​integrating it​​ literally​ (​see Feng​ ​Chen​ Wang SS18 below)​ ​and​ ​figuratively​ into​ ​their collections.​

By​​ contrast,​ ​there​ are​ ​many​ ​designers​ ​who​ ​feel​ ​just​ ​as​ ​strongly​ ​about​ ​distancing​ ​themselves​ ​from​ ​the “Made In China”​ ​story​ ​as​ ​a​ ​way ​to​ ​better​ ​ ​internationalize themselves and​ ​ pave​ the distance​ ​between​ ​China ​and​ ​​themselves.​ ​Many​ even refuse​ to​ baptize​​ their​ ​brands with​ a​ ​Chinese​ ​name in a bid​ ​to​ ​further westernize and ​to ​avoid​ ​any​​ association​ with​ the​ low-grade​ ​reputation​ ​China​ ​has​ ​built​ ​for​ ​itself in terms of production.

The question now becomes… Why​ ​is ​​conformity always​ ​the ​path ​of​ ​choice?​ ​People​ are generally uncomfortable​ ​with​ ​the​ ​unfamiliar; conformity​ not​​ only​ feeds​​ these insecurities​but​​ ​also hinders​ ​brands​ ​from ​realizing​ their​ ​true​ potential. The​ ​thirst​ ​for integration​ ​is​ muddying​ ​down​ ​the​ ​inherent​ ​nature​ ​of​ ​their​ ​brands.​ ​This gal’s two cents?​ Make “Chinese”​ familiar. ​Go​​ ahead, just do​​ it! ( Pun most definitely intended.)​ ​

Then,​ ​when ​ something​​ ​great ​ does come about,​​ it​​ won’t​ ​seem​ ​quite ​​so tacky​ ​or​ ​catastrophic​ ​to​ ​know​ ​that​ ​it​ ​came​ ​from​ ​the​ ​great​ ​unknown.

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An​ ​even​ ​more​ ​pressing​ ​final question ​is,​ ​do​ ​these selected​ ​designers​ ​abandon​ ​originality​ and​ cultural​ influences​ ​due​ ​to​ the​ ​heavy​ ​burden​ of ​financial​ responsibility?​ Does their​ creativity​ ​bow​ ​to​ ​cash — ​as​ ​it​ ​is​ what​ ​makes​ ​the​ ​world​​ go​ round,​ no?​ The​ struggle is​ real​, yet ​some​ ​designers​ ​have​ ​managed to solve​ ​the​ ​big​ ​bad​ ​mystery ​by​​ taking​ ​an​ ​integrative approach​ to​ ​their​ ​marketing​ ​model.​

​According​ ​to​ ​WG Empire,​ they​ ​build​​ ​two different production​ ​lines:​ 1)​ ​a​​ creative​ line,​​ selling their​ innovative​ design​​ work,​​ and​ ​2)​​ a commercial​ ​line,​ ​operating ​more​ ​profitable​ ​products.​ ​This​ ​model​ ​is​ ​the​ ​perfect answer​ ​to​ the​ ​​major​ ​barrier​ ​standing ​between​ creative​ ​impulse​ and​ ​monetary obligation.​

FENG CHEN WANG SS18

​Despite ​ the​ many​ ​​obvious​ ​benefits ​of​​ a​ ​brand​ ​showcasing​ ​seasonal​ collections​ ​at​ ​fashion​ ​shows across​ ​New​ ​York​ ​and​ ​Europe,​ ​they​ ​come​ ​with​ ​a​ ​hefty​ ​price tag, and​ ​without​ ​the sponsorship ​from​ ​larger​ ​investors or​ ​collaborative​ companies,​ an​ emerging​ ​designer​ ​is​ ​going​ ​to​ ​struggle​ ​with​ ​expenses.​ ​

The​ ​adventure​ ​is​ ​more ​expensive​ than​ ​most​ ​can​ ​afford, at times ​steering​ ​them​ ​in​ ​a​ ​“safe”​ ​direction,​ ​rather​ ​than one​ ​with​ ​a​ ​little​ ​risk​ ​attached.

Fact: Fashion is on the move.​ ​Fact: Fashion​ is​ making way​ ​into​ ​new​ ​corners​ of​ ​the​ ​world,​ ​​spreading its​ lively​ tentacles​ into​ ​​undiscovered​ ​corners.​ ​Fact: With​ ​the​ ​emergence​ ​of​ ​new​ ​markets,​ ​new​ ​talents,​ ​new circumstances, and so the newbie list goes on,​ ​the​ ​evolution​ ​of​ ​the​ ​fashion​ ​industry​ ​is​ one of ​unstoppable and irresistible power. ​

Revolution is always risky business; that’s a chance you just gotta take.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FEATURED IMAGE: PRIVATE POLICY, SS20. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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