Near about 20 years before, when Chinese clothing factories were busy manufacturing clothes for overseas brands, and foreign brands recognized their first global warship stores in China, two Chinese scholars from the Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology got conversant at a rock party and chatted about their collective dream: building up a domestic fashion brand to clarify Chinese artistic values.
In 1996, the two students, Mao Jihong and Ma Ke, set up China’s first independent fashion brand, Exception de Mixmind, in Guangzhou, the capital of south China’s Guangdong Province, thus making the first step in promoting home grown Chinese fashion.
“Fashion is about culture, while culture is about society’s values. As modern society becomes materialized, Exception goes against social popular culture,” said Hung Huang, CEO of the China Interactive Media Group, a publishing company which prints fashion magazines such as i-Look, Time Out and Seventeen.
“While the luxurious beauty of Western clothes has conquered fashion in China, Exception highlights the reservations of Chinese people. While the market favors various high-quality imported materials, Exception focuses on how to make better use of cotton cloth, a traditional and plain material often used in China,” added Hung.
For the duration of the past 20 years, Chinese artistic values have not move in fashion’s conventional. On the advantage of fashion, the country didn’t have a consumer market for their own fashion brands, and even Chinese designers favoured to name their brands in English to determination away its domestic scent.
As a consequence, each Chinese independent designer went through several hardships, and their leading challenge was to cast-off the enticement of creating a affluence on the dispensation of materials supplied by foreign businessmen.
Fashion is also about the market, sales and money. In the past 20 years, each corner of China’s fashion has been exposed, but our best factories worked on foreign orders, our most full of go shopping malls sold foreign brands, and our fashion icons read overseas fashion magazines.
China’s fashion industry took on an in fact bleak look. Our fashion market was conquered by fashion brands from Paris, Milan and New York. The domestic fashion brands didn’t come into the attention, let alone cause a stir on the worldwide stage. China’s fashion has long been worried about Western values
As the consequences of the worldwide financial crisis that hit the world in 2008, the West countersigned a lethargic fashion market while China began to make its way up in the fashion field. Many global fashion moguls began to focus their eyes on self-determining Chinese designers.
In 2011, the then Editor-in-Chief of American Vogue Anna Win tour, came to China and requested Chinese designer Uma Wang to join Vogue, later charming the first-ever Chinese Vogue Talent.
In the meantime, Chinese clothing factories also began to grow their own brands. To date, Exception has more than 90 retail outlets, with an annual sales volume of just about one billion yuan (US$ 165.2 million).
The brands of other self-governing Chinese designers, such as ZUCZUG, Ziggy Chen and Chictopia, have also crossed the threshold the middle-of-the-road fashion market.
But if China’s fashion industry aims to foodstuffs an encouragement on the global fashion stage, we should make more of an effort and get more support, particularly from the government.
In current years, under the supervision of the Chinese Central Government, local governments have participated a lot in creative industries. It has advanced many large enterprises, but the development of the fashion industry be contingent on small- and medium-sized enterprises.
Chinese women should stand up for fashion in China and give a voice to domestic brands on the international stage, for women are the most important consumers of the fashion industry.
Nowadays, local designers and fashion brands always get a boost when the wives of state leaders choose domestic brands for important functions.
Michelle Obama, the first Lady of the US, wore a custom-made Jason Wu gown for her two inaugural balls, bringing sudden fame to the 27-year-old Chinese-American designer.
Ex-model and singer Carla Bruni, wife of former president Nicolas Sarkozy, showed the charm of French fashion in her Dior and Chanel dresses. France’s present official first lady Valerie Trierweiler often wears dresses made by unknown designers.
In ancient China, men dominated politics, while women were traditionally deemed as fragile ‘Helen of Troy’ figures. As a result, the political scope of China looked more like a men’s locker room, as few women we able to be seen and heard by the masses.
Fortunately, great changes have taken place. The moment when China’s first lady Peng Liyuan made her diplomatic debut upon her arrival at Moscow on March 22, 2013, wearing a dark navy overcoat, a light turquoise silk scarf with a matching handbag, the Chinese fashion industry got the boost that it needed.
The first lady’s style was dubbed by netizens as ‘Liyuan style’. The exact purse and coat she donned have become top search items on Taobao.com, a major shopping website.
Her jacket and purse by Exception has helped its stores see a sharp increase in the number of visitors.
Domestic fashion brands’ stock prices were also boosted the following Monday after the first lady’s visit.
Peng has brought in sudden market benefits for Chinese designers, several times what I have worked for during the past 10 years. She had made it as easy as blowing dust off a table, which made my 10-years of hard work look as if I was just treading on water.
The author is the CEO of China Interactive Media Group, a publishing company which prints fashion magazines like i-Look, Time Out and Seventeen.