Chinese retail is getting a nationalistic boost
In China, nationalism sells. Months of a grueling trade war with the US and geopolitical spats with Asian neighbors have stoked nationalistic fervor among millennials, who are flexing their spending muscle, splashing out on Made-in-China brands at the expense of foreign icons. Dr Yu, a skincare business unit of the century-old Shanghai Jahwa, is one of the top names among the “patriotic” brands that Chinese consumers are gravitating toward to counter Western brands.  The unit, whose products are co-developed with local doctors, saw a seven-fold increase in sales to $8.6 million in December.  “The millennials are more faithful to Chinese brands which are capable of delivering equally good qua
Designing clothes for China’s working women
When Alicia Lee launched her own fashion label, more than seven years ago, it was something of an uphill struggle. In many ways the design part was the easiest. Finding distributors and factories prepared to commit to smaller production runs was the trickiest part. It was particularly difficult for the Beijing-based designer, who was located some distance from where most China garment factories are. Being in the capital, however, did offer one huge advantage – the concentration of media organizations there made it easy to cultivate contacts from fashion and lifestyle magazines. “When I launched in 2012, the designers here got a lot of attention,” recalls Lee. “It was easy to get exposure wi
Made by ‘mermaids’: China’s unique fish-skin fashion
You Wenfeng is one of only a few people who know how to create clothing from fish skin, a skill of the ethnic Hezhen people – who were once so skilled plying the waters of the nearby Heilong River that they are said to be “descended from mermaids.” The 68-year-old woman from Tongjiang, a city in China’s northeastern Heilongjiang province near the border with Russia, fears the loss of the ancient tradition. But that may start to change. She has started teaching others her craft. The exotic aquatic leather has also caught the eye of international fashion designers working for the likes of Dior and Prada.
Can Chinese fashion labels achieve global success?
China buys, produces and exports most of the world’s clothing, but most Western consumers would struggle to name a Chinese fashion brand. This begs the question: why are Chinese labels still struggling to find the spotlight? Xiaofeng Gu, a fashion marketing expert living between San Francisco and Shanghai, believes the absence of Chinese designers from the global fashion stage comes down to a combination of complacency and high cultural barriers. “China’s domestic market is so big that many brands are simply not motivated to make a global expansion,” he says. “Marketing to Western audiences is another challenge – I have seen a few shows staged by Chinese fashion brands at major fashion weeks
After KFG and Plada, Chinese lookalike sparks ‘disgust’
Chinese brand “Cherlss & Keich” has denied it was a copycat, after consumers complained of being tricked by its close resemblances with Singaporean fast-fashion brand Charles & Keith. On the Twitter-like Weibo, some users said they shopped at stores that looked almost the same as Charles & Keith’s only to find the brand name on the products was spelled differently.  The Cherlss & Keich brand is run by a leather product company in the southern city of Guangzhou. In photos posted on social media, the designs of its products, shopping bags and the storefronts all bear close resemblances to those of the Singaporean brand.  But an employee at Cherlss & Keich denied the company had copied from th
How a Chinese student became one of the world’s most sought-after models
In the space of mere months, David Yang went from a novice model to being featured on a billboard in Times Square in New York. Yang’s whirlwind rise to fame began when he received a call from his agent while in Kyoto, Japan. The model was told to fly to London to get a US visa and to book a ticket to New York for a potential shoot with H&M. Within weeks, Yang found himself on a beach shooting the images that would ultimately see him become the campaign poster-boy for the Swedish fast-fashion retailer and taking up prime real estate on a billboard in New York’s famous square. Two years later and Yang still can’t quite believe the life-changing series of events that happened to him. “It was a
A Hong Kong fashion brand comes full circle
Founded in 1994 by the late Sir David Tang, the Chinese-inspired luxury brand Shanghai Tang has seen its fortunes rise and fall under several owners. Now the brand has come full circle. In December the company’s latest owner, Shanghai-based firm Lunar Capital, announced it had hired Tang’s daughter, Victoria Tang-Owen, as the brand’s newest creative director. “I don’t think my father ever thought about [Shanghai Tang] as his legacy. Personally I don’t want to make the brand my only legacy – I want to be part of many things – but it’s important that my father is still very connected to the brand’s story. And by default, that means it is part of my story too – back then and now,” says Tang-Owe
Here are five Chinese fast fashion labels to watch
2019 is one that will go down in fashion history, according to management consultants McKinsey & Company. They believe that Greater China will, for the first time in centuries, overtake the US as the world’s largest fashion market. Homegrown fast fashion brands are well placed to cash in. They’ve long dominated smaller Chinese cities barely penetrated by affordable international brands such as Zara, H&M and Uniqlo, and recently, they’ve been taking their collections to the international stage. “Several years ago foreign brands held a higher positioning than domestic brands, but as the definition of ‘Made in China’ has shifted, Chinese brands are becoming go-to places for their design and lif
Stylin’ Beijing
The Fall/Winter edition of China Fashion Week has just wrapped up in Beijing. The week-long event, which has been running for some 22 years, saw designers from across China present their work to the world. Check out our gallery, above, for a taste.
Chinese goths protest subway ban by posting ‘dark’ selfies
Chinese goths have mounted a social media campaign to protest a Chinese subway station’s move to bar a woman from taking a train because her makeup was said to be “too scary.” The woman said last week that she had been stopped from entering a subway station in the southern metropolis of Guangzhou while wearing a long black dress, dark red lipstick and purple eyeshadow. Security officers said she looked “problematic, too scary,” and told her to remove the makeup before entering the station, the woman said in a post on the Twitter-like social site Weibo on March 10. The post prompted an outpouring of sympathy from young internet users. On Saturday, the Guangzhou Metro apologized on the social