Independent by Design
What the Beijing fashion scene lacks in history, it makes up for with its voraciousness and eclectic flair.
While global luxury brands like Dolce & Gabbana, Louis Vuitton, and Gucci are still de rigueur among the city’s label-conscious, there is a growing movement towards local pride and independent design.
Last year, Dutch-trained designer Hu Sheguang created a sensation at China Fashion Week by sending out models bedecked in gray padded cotton jackets inspired by his native Inner Mongolia. Bloggers and media outlets latched onto the garments’ kitschy floral lining, a print familiar to anyone who grew up in Dongbei (China’s northeast) during the 1980s. Hu is not alone in mining local influences. Fresh from top design schools like Parsons and Central Saint Martins, the next generation of Chinese designers is returning to its roots and setting up shop in the creative enclaves of Beijing and Shanghai. As their clients’ tastes evolve, their own inspirations become shaped and reshaped by the rapidly changing face of China.
Take Beijing-based Xander Zhou, for example. Drawing on his background in industrial design, the Dutch-trained designer marries unlikely shapes and colors to create functional but playful and often futuristic menswear collections. By contrast, Simon Gao’s architectural, largely monochromatic creations draw on Buddhist philosophy and Western tailoring techniques to evoke a new avant-garde, one informed by the past while forging decisively into the future.
“Bloggers and media outlets latched onto the garments kitschy floral lining.”
HU SHEGUANG, CHINA FASHION WEEK
One of the best places to discover up-and-coming designers is Brand New China (BNC), a retail store established by media mogul and fashion editor Hong Huang, who has been called “China’s answer to Oprah Winfrey and Anna Wintour.” Located in the swanky Taikoo Li North complex, BNC stocks the latest in clothing, accessories, and furniture by local designers like Alicia Lee, Bai Peng, Liu Qingyang, Vega Zaishi Wang, and more.
Brand New China: NLG-09A, B/1F, Taikooli North, 11 Sanlitun Rd., Chaoyang District; +86 10 6416 9045