Hong: “There Is Hope For China’s Fashion Industry”
Hong Huang, publisher of the influential lifestyle magazine iLook, tireless promoter of home-grown Chinese fashion design, and proprietress of the “designed in China” boutique Brand New China (BNC), has signed the fresh ESMOD Beijing graduate Xiang Yaodong (项耀东) as the first in-house designer for her new BNC house line. As Hong said this week, “although the original idea of BNC was to stock works by individual designers, after a year of operation, now BNC is going to develop its own brand, ‘Designer for BNC.’” Reflecting her regular championing of ESMOD Beijing — the China outpost of the French fashion school l’Ecole Supérieure des Arts et techniques de la Mode — Hong announced an additional partnership with the institution, the new iLook/BNC scholarship, aimed at supporting financially challenged, yet talented, aspiring fashion students.
As BNC’s first signed designer, Xiang Yaodong will create clothing for his personal brand, “MOH,” as well as additional collections exclusively for the new “MOH for BNC” line. Remarking on her store’s shift from focusing solely on scouting (and stocking) new talent, Hong Huang said, “When we first opened [BNC], we had no retail experience. The goal of BNC is to serve as a place for young designers to display and sell their pieces, so we didn’t choose particular designers, we figured anyone should be welcome to sell his or her work here. But after a year, we’ve recognized that the commercial appeal of home-grown Chinese fashion design is becoming more and more popular, and a lot of young designers have since opened their own stores. Some of them still value us and send pieces to be sold at BNC, but the sizes and styles are increasingly limited.”
“Also,” Hong added, “some designers aren’t sending their work on time like they used to. So our collaborations with ESMOD Beijing and Xiang Yaodong have become very important to us, especially at this time.”
In addition to Xiang’s “MOH for BNC” line, Hong Huang plans to broaden the in-house line to include more young talent in the “Designer for BNC” collection. According to Hong, Xiang Yaodong’s classmates show a great deal of potential. “I learned a lot from [this year's] ESMOD Beijing graduation fashion show,” Hong noted.
“Now there is hope for China’s fashion industry.”
The speed at which young independent Chinese fashion designers have hit the scene over the past couple of years has been a key trend in the nascent China fashion industry. Along with designers previously profiled by Jing Daily, such as Vega Zaishi Wang and Xander Zhou, cutting-edge couturiers like Chi Zhang, Ye Qian, and Bo Kewen have caught the eye of Chinese taste-makers. The well-known fashion buyer, Jiang Mingming (姜铭明), recently told People’s Daily that the gap between Western and Japanese designers and young Chinese talent is starting to narrow, yet “Western designers have a better overall environment than their Chinese counterparts, and the maturity of their industry is also very important to designers.”
Jiang added that he recently bought out the entire collection of Ye Song (叶嵩), a recent fashion school graduate, saying, “I hope we’ll have a long-term collaboration. I’m not too picky about his craftsmanship, since he just graduated from school, but what I really value is his design. We can adjust details based on the needs of the market later on. But I find his designs make an impact on me, and I think that’s the soul of a designer.”