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London Fashion Week

The next big thing in Chinese fashion, in a pink Mao jacket – Pronounce take big strides at London Fashion Week Men’s

Shanghai style meets Milan tailoring in new collection for London Fashion Week Men’s from Pronounce, designed by Yushan Li and Jun Zhou, that stood out from the crowd – and theirs is not the only Chinese label making waves

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 January, 2018, 8:18am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 January, 2018, 9:20am

A menswear brand created by two talented Chinese designers is set to make its mark on the fashion world in 2018.

Big things are expected of Pronounce, a young Chinese menswear brand designed by Yushan Li and Jun Zhou, after they made a successful second visit to London Fashion Week Men’s (LFWM) this week to show their fourth collection.

“We’ve been waiting for something like this from China to happen for a while and these guys have got it,” said Godfrey Deeny, Global Editor in Chief of FashionNetwork.com.

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After creating a capsule collection with Gap China last autumn, the duo’s line wasspotted at Shanghai Fashion Week’s dedicated menswear showcase, Labelhood, and they were invited to the show in London by GQ China.

The pair operate their business between Milan and Shanghai, which gives their brand a distinct voice. By blending the colour and tailoring skills of Milan, where Zhou lives, with the Chinese heritage and style in Shanghai, where Li is based, the pair have successfully combined the two.

“We are Chinese but very Western-influenced in our design,” explains Li.

Their autumn/winter 2018 collection showcases this cultural fusion, integrating classic tailoring methods used in Mao suit sewing techniques. Other examples are beautifully cut leather and wool coats featuring oriental hook and eye fastenings, while a Mao jacket also comes in pink with a pointy collar.

By using new fabric technology, they produced laminated wools for tailoring and quilted outerwear in violet and pink PVC. These were used in colour combinations with soft wool pants and chunky hand-knits, proving that colour and exciting textures are among their strengths.

This month’s LFWM highlights how mobile young designers are nowadays: Pronounce is based in Milan and Shanghai, but their brand still appears on the London catwalk. Likewise fellow Chinese designer Xander Zhou lives in the Netherlands and produces clothes in Beijing, but he has presented every one of his collections over the past six years in London – the first Chinese menswear designer to do so. His London shows have helped him to mature as a designer.

Similarly he mixes East and West styles. Tangzhuang jackets are paired with cargo pants, the traditional changshan (long gown) with knotted fastenings is worn with Western suits, while leather pieces printed with Chinese characters and classical gongbi brushwork were also in his autumn collection.

Li and Zhou feel “emotionally related” to London as it is where the two met. Li graduated from Central Saint Martin’s in London with an MA in menswear, and Zhou also gained an MA in menswear from London College of Fashion’s after studying in Milan at Istituto Marangoni.

We’ve been waiting for something like this from China to happen for a while and these guys have got it
Godfrey Deeny

“London is open and full of possibilities: you feel more confident about showing your work here as it is a really open space. It is feels more relaxing, so we can focus on what we want to achieve,” says Li.

Taiwanese designer Chin of Chin Menswear also studied in London. After he felt “lost” among the big brands in Paris when he presented his Spring/Summer 2018 collection there last June, he has opted for London this time around because of the “openness and opportunity” that he feels there.

Danshan, the Hong Kong and Chinese design duo, stayed in London after their studies to launch their menswear label. Meanwhile the day before LFWM began, the London College of Fashion presented its latest MA menswear show, and of the 10 shortlisted designers presenting their collections nine of them were from China and South Korea.

In fact, about 75 per cent of college’s MA students currently are Asian. Among the talented young designers in the line-up was Xu Bo, who had a contemporary take on the fur coat by instead fashioning them in synthetics, from multi-coloured fibre-optic yarns.

Dylan Jones, chairman of LFWM, puts the city’s appeal down to the fact that it “is a melting pot of creative industries”, as more designers merge their menswear and womenswear presentations.

J.W. Anderson is the latest to move to a combined show at the London Fashion Week in February, while Vivienne Westwood replaced her show with a digital presentation.

“In an ideal world, we would combine the two (Men’s and Women’s Fashion Weeks) if people were prepared to be away for that long,” says Jones. “I thought the digital world was supposed to make things easier for the industry, but it hasn’t.”

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At Pronounce, women buyers make up 40 per cent of their sales. “We never think of menswear as just for men,” says Li. But as Zhou points out: “We are not a unisex label, women just like the cut of the menswear.”