A Big Step forward of Chinese Fashion Industry

With China Fashion Week 2013, MODE Shanghai 2013, the leading international fashion trade show in Shanghai, as well as the 2013 BIFT Fashion Week, all taking place this month, we decided to take a closer look at the fashion industry in China. The fashion industry has undergone tremendous change within the past decade and is continuing to expand at an exponential rate.

What it Used to Be

If you walked down the street in China a couple of decades ago, you would more than likely see both men and women wearing the Zhongshan suit (Chinese tunic suit), the Chinese version of a Western business suit also known as the Mao suit. The suit was originally named after Sun Zhongshan (Dr. Sun Yat-sen) after he advocated the wearing of functional clothes.


As China underwent its modernization period, women began to experiment with fashion. Many more flowery dresses were beginning to be seen, as well as leggings with straps on the foot, hoses that reached up to the ankle, and hairstyles other than just braids. Because China was slowly picking itself up, fashion developed at a very slow pace.

Today’s Fashion Boom

China is expected to become the largest fashion market within the next five years. “China’s luxury market is forecast by McKinsey & Co. to soar to US$27 billion by 2015 — one fifth of the world’s total — up from US$10 billion in 2009,” said Emma Charlton in “China’s passion for fashion on show in Paris.” According to fashionista.com, Didier Grumback, head of France’s fashion federation, also claimed China “is a country that is passionate about fashion, like all emerging nations where appearance is of the utmost importance. “

China Daily argues that China’s eye is “set on creating brands and products that will win the world, much like Apple, Louis Vuitton and Ikea” and that it “wants to become known as a design and innovation center – and no longer just as a manufacturing powerhouse.”

Fashion Shows in China

China Fashion Week is a fashion exhibition that was established in Beijing in 1997. Today it has become world-renowned as not only a “top-rated platform for fashion design, ready-to-wear-accessories, styling and other designs and new technologies,” but also as a “platform for promoting brands, displaying originality, and broadcasting fashion trends” to the world.

With over 320 designers, more than 350 fashion brands, over 768 fashion shows, the exhibition attracts hundreds of media worldwide. It is held twice a year during March and October. China’s fashion week has proved to the world that it is not only ready to embrace the fashion industry, but that it is becoming pivotal in the innovation of fresh new trends.


In March 2010, the leading international fashion show in Shanghai, MODE Shanghai, was established. It is said to cater the needs of global department stores looking to enter Asian fashion retail business, and to be an optimized business platform for retailers and fashion brands. MODE SHANGHAI is more than a trade show, it is a gateway of a tremendous market for fashion brands and designers, as the future’s axe of the global fashion business. In just three years, the fashion show has flourished exponentially. This year, it was held March 12th-14th.


There are many more fashion shows seeking to crack Chinese market, including Dior’s S/S 2013 couture show, taking place in Shanghai on March 30 and organized by Bureau Betak.

Chinese Consumers

Many Chinese women spend a larger percentage of their income on fashion magazines than Western women, according to an article in The New York Times. In the article, Duncan Edwards, president and chief executive of Hearst Magazines International, stated, “We’re going through this wonderful period where huge numbers of women are coming out of poverty into the middle class and beyond. Many of these women are choosing to spend on luxury goods.”


With much more recent exposure to Western media, Chinese consumers are now much more aware of global fashion trends. Furthermore, according to a 2011 study conducted by Bain & Company, as stated in The New York Times, mainland China ranked sixth in the world for spending on luxury goods ranked by country, and in 2010, it was a US$17.7 billion market where Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Gucci remain the most desired luxury brands.

International Designers

Because of such a freshly booming fashion industry, world renowned designers are turning their attention to China. After husband David Beckham was unveiled as China’s first ever global football ambassador, Victoria Beckham will be making a series of high-profile appearances in China in an attempt to crack its market with her fashion line.

Luxury fashion label Marc Jacobs is also said to be going after China with plans to add six stores a year to its existing 25 in Mainland China and 5 stores to its stores in Hong Kong.


“I think Chinese consumers can learn very fast. Three or four years ago, they may have been merely chasing logos. Now they seek more than that. The chase now is more about lifestyle, social status and how the brand can fit them. It’s not just about a logo anymore,” said Stalla-Bourdillon, Marc Jacob’s chief executive, to the South China Morning Post.

Companies such as H&M, Zara, Topshop, and Karen Millen are opening stores at an alarming rate, as China continues to become the fastest growing market with store numbers.

Chinese Students in the Fashion Industry

Chinese students are seeking to gain more exposure and experience in the fashion industry. The applications to Pratt Institute’s fashion program in New York have more than tripled in the past three years. The younger generation is interested more than ever in fashion and in creating a stronger presence in the industry. This month, Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology hosted its four-day 2013 Fashion Week. According to former vice president of SCAD Hong Kong, “One only has to walk down the street in Shanghai and Beijing today and see the importance of fashion and street style, and how that’s grown and changed in the last 20 years and definitely even in the last five years,” reported China Daily.


by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com

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