Bigger than ever, it’s hard to ignore what a force Shanghai Fashion Week has become

63 official catwalk shows and presentations, plus private shows, meant there was an awful lot to take in, but the brightest designers shone through

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 October, 2016, 4:49pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 October, 2016, 5:42pm

Shanghai Fashion Week gets bigger every year. Forty-five official catwalk shows and 18 official presentations, an almost befuddling mix of brands – and sponsors – and everything from children’s wear to menswear to bridal fashion on show left a lot to digest.

Highlights of the event, which ended on Thursday, included shows by Mukzin, AwayLee, Baby Ghost, Xu Zhi and Uma Wang. The latter’s collection (which made its debut at Milan Fashion Week earlier this year) was shown in collaboration with cashmere brand 1436, and featured a lovely mix of soft, languid shapes, sheers and layered knits topped off with puritan bonnets.

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Curiosity about Chinese brands is growing within China itself and beyond. Unlike fashion weeks in the West, which mainly cater to press and buyers, many of the official catwalk shows in Shanghai placed significant focus on clients, which is why the audience included a fair share of families (including children). That produces a different vibe to the shows in London, Milan, New York and Paris.

In all honesty, the official schedule needed a bit of tightening: the substantial kidswear section was a distraction that took the momentum away from high fashion. Despite this, it was hard to ignore what a force Shanghai Fashion Week has become; big trade shows are bringing business and helping reshape China’s retail fashion landscape.

Satellite events in particular have benefited greatly from the growing interest in Chinese fashion. One such event was the Conde Nast Centre of Fashion & Design graduate show at Lane Crawford, which offered a way for fresh graduates to participate in a fashion week in a major city.

A smattering of representatives of the Western fashion elite made it to Shanghai, something organisers of the government-run event are always keen to promote.

Diane Pernet, who writes the blog A Shaded View on Fashion, was there. She’s known to be fond of discovering new talent, so her appearance in Shanghai was good news all round. R&B star Usher performed at a concert. American designer Tory Burch made sure to stop off to launch her Gemini Link collection at her gigantic, plush Kerry Centre flagship store, drawing Chinese celebrities such as Emma Pei and crowds seeking to rub shoulders with the designer.

Under the platform “Labelhood” was an exciting mix of fresh talent, including Xu Zhi, FfiXXed and Tommy Zhong. Other labels held their own private shows, such as popular Shanghai designer Helen Lee, young Shanghai-based label Missy Skins, and British brand Sibling (brought over as part of the Hub Shanghai trade show).

Seen during the recent Paris Fashion Week, Hong Kong/Shenzhen label FfiXXed made time to show in Shanghai because it sees the event as an important way to meet influential Chinese buyers and keep a strong presence in the country. Similarly, Hong Kong label Ground Zero (founded by brothers Eric and Philip Chu), showed its spring/summer 2017 collection – featuring a colourful cornucopia of Asian streetwear-inspired looks that included cargo pants, anime motifs and plenty of attitude – having first shown the line at New York Fashion Week.