The Unspoken Fashion Relationship Between China And Britain
As London Fashion Week draws to a close, our attention has been drawn to the influx of Chinese designers whose collections graced the runways over the course of the Spring/Summer 2013 installment. While they by no means dominated the catwalk, emerging Chinese designers such as Huishan Zhang (who made his debut this year), Kim Hwang, Yang Du, and Jenny Ji (Ji Cheng) were called out this year as “designers who are poised to influence international [fashion] trends in the near future.”
While this group isn’t the first to hit the scene in London — relative “pioneers” like Masha Ma and Yifang Wan showed in 2008 and February 2012, respectively — their appearance indicates that young Chinese designers are becoming a mainstay at the high-profile event.
Considering only one China-based designer — VLOV’s Qingqing Wu — showed earlier this month at New York Fashion Week, the growing presence of the Chinese contingent in the UK points to an interesting, unspoken relationship between London and China. Many of China’s newest generation of designers boast the same alma mater on their résumés, either London’s prestigious Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design or the London College of Fashion.
Compared to those who study in other fashion epicenters such as New York, Paris or Milan, London remains perhaps the top draw for some of China’s most talented young design students. Furthermore, though many — such as Vega Zaishi Wang, Uma Wang and Qiu Hao — return home after graduation, still others remain in London to work on their own labels or apprentice at established design studios.
So what is it about the British capital that’s cemented its reputation among aspiring Chinese fashion designers? Aside from its long history as a fashion trendsetter, cultural hub, and hotbed of heritage brands, it seems that many are attracted to London for the creativity its atmosphere inspires in students often accustomed to rote learning. As London College of Fashion MA student (and Jing Daily designer-to-watch) Yirantian Guo put it, “London’s not only a good place for education, it’s also a good place to live. I’m inspired by everything around me.”
As for Dalian-born Yang Du, “Coming to England has made me more aware of who I am, and I’m proud to be Chinese. I came over to study when I was 22. My culture is in my blood. So studying at Central Saint Martins taught me how to find myself and be who I am.” Whether it’s London’s internationality or its soul-searching environment as a home away from home, it’s a safe bet that we’ll definitely see a lot more come out of this deepening London-China fashion bond.
London-Educated Chinese Designers
- Huishan Zhang, Central Saint Martins
- Kim Kwang, Central Saint Martins, London College of Fashion, Instituto Marangoni
- Yang Du, Central Saint Martins
- Vega Zaishi Wang, Central Saint Martins
- Uma Wang, China Textile University, Central Saint Martins
- Yirantian Guo, London College of Fashion
- Qiu Hao, Central Saint Martins
- Alison Mary Ching Yeung, King’s College, Central Saint Martins
- Masha Ma, Central Saint Martins
- Yifang Wan, Central Saint Martins
- Fei Wang, Oxford Brookes
Based in London
- Zhang Huishan
- Kim Kwang
- Yang Du
- Uma Wang (also based in Shanghai)
- Fei Wang
- Masha Ma
Educated Elsewhere Overseas
- Xander Zhou, studied in Netherlands, based in Beijing
- Chi Zhang, Instituto Marangoni, based in Beijing
- Jenny Ji (Ji Cheng), Instituto Marangoni, based in Shanghai
- Liu Lu, Parsons School of Design, based in Beijing