Highlights from Shanghai Fashion Week: future sports, androgyny
Young Chinese designers filled the catwalks with gender-neutral styles, sporty futurism, ruffles and ruches at the nation’s biggest fashion week
The streets of Xintiandi were packed with China’s fashion set, as the country’s biggest and brightest fashion week kicked into gear. Press, buyers and a lot of fashion fans crowded around the venues of the main Xintiandi tents and the independent Labelhood platform to see what China’s fashion forces have to offer.
From Shanghai-based label Sirloin’s take on new consumerist “Tu Hao” (Chinese nouveau riche) culture via Miami Vice and Palm Springs, to the ever colourful Angel Chen’s radical burst of sporty futurism, the Chinese fashion set is a vibrant crowd on and off the catwalks – this season more than ever. With the millennial trend in bright rainbow hair and fluoro sporty outerwear, fashion week street style cut an especially bright figure against Shanghai’s muggy, grey skies last week.
Clear trends emerged on the streets and on the catwalks, while China’s market is huge – unpacking the inspirations behind its creative forces in Shanghai proved to be surprisingly easy. Perhaps that’s because so many of these young, rising Chinese designers are educated in London, with Central Saint Martins seeming to pump out one notable after another. Several of those younger London-based Chinese designers like Chen, Minki Cheng, and Daniel Xu Zhi staged catwalk presentations at Shanghai fashion week in addition to their London shows.
The consolidation of Labelhood (a spirited, edgy and younger schedule of designer shows) into the official fold alongside the more established brands on the main schedule has proved pivotal for Shanghai Fashion Week’s punch. Here are our top trends of the season:
Young Chinese designers and their fans are leading the way to truly fluid dressing. Fashions that are stereotypically male or female are passé, according to many of China’s young fashionistas and labels such as Ffixxed Studios (who’ve long championed unisex dressing), Obtuse Triangle, Private Policy and Staff Only. It’s not just about putting women in masculine suiting and men in unisex tunics – designers push boundaries with more playful silhouettes, patterns and shapes that subvert traditional gendered dressing.
2. Sporty futurism
As seen in films such as Ghost in the Shell and Blade Runner – whether it was in the showrooms or on catwalks, this trend shows no signs of abating. This isn’t regular athleisure and no one is wearing Lululemon. It’s all about baseball caps, raincoats, parkas with big drawstrings – yes even for summer.
Suddenly shell suits, trench coats, outwear and anoraks are cool. Minki’s ruched khaki coats and Angel Chen’s radical oversized jackets were some of the most desirable. Cynthia and Xiao’s sporty wovens were cute and clever, while Helen Lee ventured into silver and metallic skirts and raincoats and Sirloin offered cheeky boisterous ’90s Americana swimwear and sportswear.
3. Luxurious textures and draping
Designers are experimenting with increasingly tactile fabrics as a counterpoint to the modern shapes on offer. From rich carpet tapestries, thick wovens, swinging fringes, and crafty textures, many of these clothes were begging to be touchedat Minki, Cynthia & Xiao and Modement (all of which have Hong Kong designers). There were oceanic sheens in blues and mercury at Wangbing Huang, threadbare hyper-distressed effects at Ka Wa Key and the young Xu Zhi again showed exquisitely textured dresses at his W Hotel catwalk show.
4. Ruffles and ruching
Gathered volumes and feminine frills are everywhere on the Shanghai catwalks. But as brands like Wmwm, Shushu Tong, Deep Moss, Minki and Yingpei Studios show, they don’t always look so fussy and sweet. Whether it’s to create exaggerated shape, structure or adding feminine detail in lace or leather, these effects are bringing something altogether more rebellious and edgy to the mix.