Related News

Home » Feature

Xie goes to Paris as his label booms

XIE Feng (Frankie Xie), pictured below, was the first Chinese designer to grace the runway of Paris Fashion Week when he did so two years ago.

Since then, the Hangzhou native has been working hard to present his "Jefen by Frankie" collections twice a year in the capital of fashion.

It is not an easy job. A 20 minute catwalk show in Paris requires much more than just beautifully designed dresses and tops. A mature team and strong financial backup are equally as important.

Other Chinese designers certainly have taken their collections to Paris, Milan and London, but maybe only for one season.

However, Xie is the only one who has persevered for five seasons so far.

A graduate of Zhejiang Institute of Science and Technology, Xie went to Japan to study fashion design in the 1980s.

He spent nearly 10 years learning and working in Japan, Hong Kong and Paris, where he had the opportunity to see how the international fashion industry runs and operates.

The ambitious designer chose to return to China and establish his own brand, "Jefen," in 2000.

Today, as one of the most successful local fashion brands, Jefen operates more than 30 stores in cities like Shanghai, Beijing, Hangzhou, Dalian and Qingdao.

In 2006, Xie was invited by Didier Grumbach, president of the Federation Francaise de la Couture, du Pret-a-Porter des Couturiers et des Createurs de Mode (in short, French Fashion Federation), to attend Paris Fashion Week and showcase his label "Jefen by Frankie" alongside big name brands such as Chanel, Christian Dior, Givenchy and Yves Saint Laurent.

The senior Chinese designer was awarded "Fashion Designer of China" last mongh at the Elle Style Awards held to celebrate the fashion magazine's 20th anniversary in China.

He was in Shanghai recently for a fashion event.

Q: What made you decide to join Paris Fashion Week in 2006?

A: At the time, the French Fashion Federation was looking for a Chinese fashion designer to present at Paris Fashion Week. However, they found it was difficult to get a Chinese fashion brand that was commercially successful and at the same time driven by a designer.

I was not that successful at the time but I thought it was a great opportunity to realize my dream: I had studied and worked in Japan for 10 years and going to Paris is the dream of almost every Japanese designer. Attending Paris Fashion Week is not just about promoting the "Jefen" brand. I want to show young people how good a Chinese fashion brand can be. Most people in China believe that a local brand can never be as good as a foreign one.

Q: What is your design philosophy?

A: I've always believed that fashion is very much related to life. I'm always looking for something in common between international fashion trends and Chinese people's ways of wearing clothes. When I design, I consider the style needs of my customers, which are different in China and in Europe.

For example, my target customers in China are those aged from 35 to 45, who want clothes to represent a certain "value," made up of quality materials and elegant silhouettes which can be worn to the office.

However, in Europe, the customers are younger ¨? those aged between 25 and 35 ¨? who are fascinated by the Oriental culture, especially Chinese. That's why I have two labels ¨? "Jefen" in China and "Jefen by Frankie" in Europe.

Q: Will you adjust your style to cater for the tastes of European customers?

A: I have used a lot of black in my new collection for next spring/summer. I was very worried about that before I went to Paris however I was relieved after seeing many fashion houses are using dark colors for their next collection.

There is still a long way to go before Chinese designers can be recognized worldwide. Sure we can use some Chinese elements; but these are just symbols. Again, it's vital to combine our tradition culture with the latest international fashion trends.

Q: Could you tell us more about your "Tao Hua Yuan" collection for spring/summer 2009 that hit the runway during Paris Fashion Week in last October?

A: When we can't find our directions in real life, we can only look for them in the dream land. This collection, inspired by "Tao Hua Yuan Ji" (peach blossom spring) by the Chinese poet Tao Qian (365-427), features a palette of black and white and neutral colors. There are also touches of pinks to echo the theme "peach blossom." I have created many long dresses to reflect a dreamy, unrealistic world.

"Peach blossom spring" is the Chinese term for utopia. Dreaming isn't always better than the reality; however, for a designer, it is something that we keep on pursuing.

Also, facing the economic downturn worldwide, I want to tell people what I've learned from the poem ¨? never give up your dream. Spring will come. So everything will be fine.

Q: When it comes to design, how would you define success?

A: Like I said, the ability to relate fashion to life showcases how mature a designer is. It's always good to be innovative. However, those innovative ideas must be able to be accepted by the customers.

Q: What did you think of the works of local designers presented at the recent Shanghai Fashion Week?

A: I was impressed by the talent of young designers. However, some of them have to clarify "who, where and when" they want their designs to be worn. I always believe the fashion industry belongs to young people.

However, in China, things are different. We don't lack for talented designers, we lack investors with foresight. Some promising young designers can only make a living by making clothes for stars and celebrities.

On the other hand, some young designers nowadays are too eager to be successful overnight. I suggest designers in their 20s should work for big companies first to gain sufficient experience before starting their own labels. It's never too late to start their own business after 30.

Q: What are you future plans for "Jefen" in China?

A: I will do more events around China to promote the brand, hopefully to attract more younger customers aged from 25 to 35. Also, I'd like to nurture a group of young designers, just like what Rei Kawakubo has done.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend