From textile production to hi-tech behavior… Temper presents the quick facts on three lesser-known hubs further opening up and reforming China’s style scenery. One can Xi everything through fashion.
Wuhan: Textile Hub
The capital of Hubei Province, the largest city in the province, the most populous city in central China, with a population of over 11 million, and the ninth-most populous Chinese city. It’s also one of the nine National Central Cities of China.
Due to strong consumption demand, Wuhan is still one of the top retail markets in Central China. Recently local and international retailers, including Wuhan Plaza, Zhongbai, Capitaland and Wanda, have been expanding their presence by opening more department stores and shopping malls.
The rising purchasing power and a shift to more western-style consumer behaviors, provides ample opportunities for fast fashion (such as H&M, Zara, Uniqlo) and luxury fashion (such as Burberry, Gucci, Louis Vuitton).
Wuhan houses one of the largest garment production and distribution centers in Central China, owing to its well-established garment sales network and unique geographical location. The city is home to 14 universities and colleges offering fashion specialties. Among them are the Wuhan Textile University, one of the top 10 fashion design universities in China) and the Hubei Academy of Fine Arts.
Additionally, the textile hub is home to a number of large textile enterprises. The upstream industrial chain guarantees the quality and sufficient raw material supply for garment production in Wuhan.
Chengdu: The Red Seal of Approval
The capital of the Sichuan Province and, with almost 9.5 million peeps residing there, one of the three most-populous cities in western China.
What is the next superhot, hip and happening Chinese city to enter the bigger China Fashion scene — joining the ranks of Shanghai and Beijing?
Chengdu Street Snap (a street photography project of staged snap shots scorching Chinese social media) is one example of a continually active and obvious expression of “self-fashion.” The suave city’s fashion foundations are some of the highest quality in the west of China. Due to its gigantic market and solid sales track record, Chengdu has currently become the first choice for foreign brands to enter the western Chinese market — after Shanghai and Beijing, as you do.
“Chengdu has been in the spotlight for many brands and retailers,” Lisa Pak of Fiorentia Village outlets tells Temper, “Chengdu Creative Design Week, for example, gave us a glimpse of the allure and temper of this city. In addition to the booming fashion brands and overall industry, the city also has the vision of evolving into an international consumption center, covering culture, innovation, inclusiveness, and attraction.”
Authority-endorsed lingo aside, Chengdu is probs best known across the West for giving birth to China’s ever-burgeoning hip-hop ethos, merging music, sneakers, ghetto gold, and general too cool for school levels. And fashion. The latter label has long been etched in the context of Chengdu’s urban (r)evolution. The city’s Gen Z, especially, worships overall gorgeousness, and is more than willing to spend the big buckaroos on style, all accoutrements included. All in all, these kids boast some serious spending power.
Admittedly, the Chinese government does loudly and strongly support the business of fashion in Chengdu, and for that sole reason many a brand regards the city as a humming hub for commercial investment. Interesting. Admittedly, Temper, too, failed to recognize the focus on fashion from the brothers higher up.
(See what we did there? Chengdu, Higher Brothers, ya know, the cheese.)
All of it for the love of the Party hemlines.
Shenzhen: Technology Tiks ‘n Toks
Appointed the nation’s very first Special Economic Zone in May of 1980, and long dubbed “China’s Silicon Valley,” Shenzhen’s cityscape results from its vibrant economy — made possible by rapid foreign direct investment following the institution of the policy of “reform and opening-up” in 1979. The city’s official population as of June 2021 stands at right below 12.5 million.
Shenzhen refers to itself as the “Hollywood of makers,” taking pride in its infrastructure for innovation with many leading Chinese tech companies (Huawei, anyone?) calling the area home. The place evolved from a sleepy fishing village in the 1980s to a global tech hub in 2021, set to invest more than 700 billion yuan (US$108 billion) in hi-tech research and development over the next five years to come.
As one of the country’s major garment and textile industrial bases, the zone will aim to transform itself from a manufacturing powerhouse into a design and innovation-driven fashion hub after reporting robust income since 2017. The area houses a number of domestic brands such as Fuanna, Kaltendin, Yiner and Migaino, while many international fashion firms have chosen to team up with local partners such as Pinko and La Pargay.
“Thanks to its direct access to a manufacturing supply chain combined with hi-tech level industrial design, Shenzhen today houses 70 to 90 percent of China’s fast fashion production,” Professor Min Zhang, head of the city’s Talent Support System, tells Temper. “Focusing on design innovation is of great significance for the high-quality development of the textile industry,” he concludes.
Fact one: Zhang also points out the heavy presence of Gen Zers (those born after 1995) in the area, with the average age of its inhabitants currently 32.4. The generation’s gusto for consumption is boosted by the easy market access on offer, ready to turbocharge Shenzhen’s fashion consumer market.
Fact two: Renowned fashion educators such as Istituto Marangoni, too, are gearing up to delve into the allure of (digital) innovation by launching new training centers in the heart of Shenzhen.
Fact three: the city comes in third in terms of Chinese gold mines, Shenzhen also boasts extensive jewelry production lines. We intentionally rhyme.
Speaking of “trifecta,” here’s some vocab including the number “three” (三 in Chinese):
三孩 | sān hái | “three-child policy” — May 31, 2021 so definitely an on-the-radar term
三人成虎 | sān rén chéng hǔ | “if you throw plenty of dirt at someone, some of it will stick” — idiom starring three villagers reporting a tiger-sighting
三栖明星 | sān qī míng xīng | “triple threat” — a slightly older expression, but still