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October 16, 2021

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Fashion week roars into action with immersive shows, forums and new ranges

Gen Zers are driving the rise of guochao — a movement that celebrates local Chinese designers’ focus on Chinese culture and is changing the fashion market. And it’s on show at the ongoing Spring/Summer 2022 Shanghai Fashion Week.

Under the theme “The Future is Now,” this season’s Shanghai Fashion Week will run until October 19, with forums, exhibitions and runways on the schedule, and all events are open to the public. Chinese young designers are treating the runway as a guochao theater, making the celebrated fashion event more fun than ever.

Chinese culture on stage

Last season, nearly 20 percent of the designer brands on show emphasized Chinese traditional culture in their designs. This season, the trend looks set to continue, with brands like DONSEE 10 and Shushu/Tong on display, each of which tends to focus on Chinese culture.

Highlighting young and independent Chinese designers, this season’s Labelhood is under the theme of “Romantic,” and moved its venue to the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation Pavilion on the West Bund.

On October 9, Labelhood opened with a new project called “Romance of China,” a unique crossover fashion “immersive theater” in collaboration with Chinese photographer Leslie Zhang and four brands, Yueqi Qi, Yirantian, Shushu/Tong and Nomanoman.

The immersive show included four chapters, each in an art form of Chinese culture. The models performed Rong Hua (Velvet Flower), a classic song from the movie “Xiao Hua” in 1979, in the nostalgic designs of fashion brand Yirantian inspired by the 1980s.

Nomanoman’s sweat suits were shown in a drama performance themed around a Chinese women’s volleyball team. Shushu/Tong brought a part of “Secret Love In Peach Blossom Land,” one of the most popular contemporary plays in China, to showcase the new season collections.

It was inspired by the school uniform of Shanghai in the 1940s, the period in which the story takes place. Yueqi Qi’s runway was on a Kunqu Opera stage, with its dresses full of Chinese Opera elements.

The designers who became accustomed to international style at a young age asserted their freer and more personal voices in their designs. They did this by reflecting their own stories and backgrounds to convey a new era of Chinese fashion. The immersive theater showed the Chinese culture behind their designs.

Support homegrown cotton

Local labels are showing support for homegrown cotton producers and integrating sustainability into designs. Purcotton, a Chinese brand focused on the cotton section, debuted at Shanghai Fashion Week on October 13.

The brand presented an immersive stage to show the development and sustainable value of cotton in the fashion industry.

The runway was transformed into cotton fields, and the models were dressed as future travelers who migrate as the Earth’s environment changes. All the new designs were made of cotton.

Even the invitation was made of cotton instead of paper — and delivered with a book named “World of Cotton” which is about the history and development of cotton as a fabric.

“Cotton is an all-natural fiber that grows well in several climates and can be harvested fairly easily. It’s washable, breathable, absorbent and strong. It can be recycled and made into yarn or new garments,” said Li Jianquan, founder of the brand. “Let the public know the eco values of cotton at Shanghai Fashion Week, that is why we do the show.”

“More and more young designers are using natural cotton. By coloring, cutting and designing, the cotton fabrics are comfortable and environmentally friendly, also stylish,” Xiao Xue, former Elle China publisher and editor-in-chief and Shanghai Fashion Week ambassador, said after the show.

Open to the public

Compared to the big four fashion weeks, Shanghai Fashion Week is open to all visitors, not only the fashion icons. Visitors can get a ticket to the runway show on the brand’s Weibo or Shanghai Fashion Week’s official WeChat account.

This season ticket is available on WeChat, so just scan the QR code to enter. That is quite convenient.

Shanghai Fashion Week’s iconic white tent at Xintiandi has been updated for this season. Two huge new halls, the Red Hall and Blue Hall, have debuted beside Taipinghu Lake.

The larger hall has a bigger stage for designers and it’s more beautiful than ever. As a highlight, Chinese independent designer Ban Xiaoxue invited artist Wang Ziyue to create a wasteland theater with red clay for the new season’s design.

For audiences, the runway is more interesting than ever, allowing them to enjoy taking photos on stage after the show.

Before the show, the waiting area is also full of fun — well-designed displays for photos, drinks for free (just need to follow their WeChat account), and free styling service.

The ongoing free-admission trade shows also welcome public visitors; just register on the official WeChat platform to get in to Mode, Ontimeshow, Showroom Shanghai, Tube Showroom, Alter Showroom, Not Showroom, Dadashow, Lab Showroom and Hch Showroom. More than 1,000 brands’ new designs are on display.

High-profile events also took place during the week, such as the inaugural She Power Fashion Women Forum. Participants included Xiao Xue, Chinese model Liu Wen, and former professional tennis player Li Na.

For a citywide celebration of fashion, a series of digital initiatives and offline events will also be held, such as the Shanghai Fashion and Lifestyle Carnival. It is an online platform that enables fashion brands to sell their latest collections directly to consumers via livestreaming.


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