When will the China Fashion Week era arrive?

Models display Chinese-style clothes at a show during this year's China Fashion Week.

Models display Chinese-style clothes at a show during this year’s China Fashion Week.

Fashion weeks are being staged everywhere, and there’s practically a host city for every letter of the alphabet. But only four cities occupy the top spot, attracting the biggest fashion houses and designers, buyers, stylists, fashion journalists and, of course, celebrities. They are New York, London, Milan and Paris.

Beijing recently hosted China Fashion Week, which got some media mileage overseas, but it’s just not on the agenda of the global fashion industry’s movers and shakers. Even Chinese celebrities, who show up at fashion shows on the other side of the world, were few and far between in Beijing last week.

The Shanghai stylist Clement Buyi Z, who styles fashion shows and magazine shoots under his Clement and Clement Production, began attending the “big four” fashion weeks three years ago. Despite his hectic schedule, he says he makes time to attend at least the Paris and New York fashion weeks every year. But a trip to Beijing to attend China Fashion Week is apparently too much trouble.

“The shows are boring,” he says. “They’re not well organized. They’re all kind of the same. The time I spend at China Fashion Week is just not worth it.”

  • The crucial thing China Fashion Week needs to do, experts say, is find a niche.

“It’s deciding who it’s for, why you’re doing it – whether you’re doing it for prestige or whether you’re doing it for business,” Jane Rapley, head of London’s Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design, tells China Daily during a Beijing trip to attend the China Fashion Forum.

“If you’re then trying to position it as a prestige event on the world stage, you’ve got to have something that buyers are never going to find anywhere else.” Amanda Kaiser, Asian editor of the trade publication Women’s Wear Daily, says it’s wiser for China Fashion Week to build up its name in the region rather than to compete with the international fashion capitals, where the fashion world seeks direction.

“I think that, in the interim, it makes sense for regional fashion weeks to try to become big regional players, and then perhaps more international interest from the mature markets will come,” she says.

“Just about every city on the planet has a fashion week at this point and all of them are trying to attract international attention. It’s just really tough because the top-tier international media, the top-tier international buyers have already been on the road for the better part of a month going to all the big collections in Milan, in Paris and in New York.

“So it’s going to be very difficult to get some of these people to travel to China or to Japan or to Brazil for another fashion week.”

Fashion weeks are semiannual, so host cities scattered all over the globe are competing for the attention of fashion VIPs twice a year.

Rapley advises patience and uses her home city’s 28-year-old fashion week as an example. (New York, the first fashion week, has been around for 69 years.) China Fashion Week, in comparison, is 15 years old.

“London Fashion Week has had a roller coaster ride,” she says. “It probably took some 20 years to get some recognition that this was something buyers needed to come to. Because that’s what it’s about, it’s getting buyers to come. And if you get some A-listers, that brings the buyers like bees to the honey pot. But it is very hard work.”

  • What do you know about China Fashion Week?
  • As a PR professional who is interested in fashion, what can you do to help promote China Fashion Week?

 

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4 thoughts on “When will the China Fashion Week era arrive?

  1. I don’t know anything really about China Fashion Week, but I do know a lot about the “big four”! The “big four” have extremely successful fashion shows, and have for many many years now. So why are these four cities so much more successful in their fashion weeks than Beijing? In my opinion, Beijing being such a large city it should be more flourishing during its fashion week! As a PR professional who is interested in fashion, I personally would do a couple things to go about helping promote the Chinese Fashion Week. Obviously because it isn’t a part of the “big four” not a lot of people know that Beijing would even host a fashion week. So, get the word out! I would create Twitter accounts, Instagram accounts, Facebook accounts, etc! And post, post, post! Hold promotions for people that mention the accounts, and get people talking. Have superior organization skills, and most of all get people excited!

  2. The most important thing for Beijing to do it is be different. They need to be kitschy or avant garde and then they need to market the whole show as such. I agree, using social media is key in promoting up and coming events. If they attempt to copy the “big four”, it could be 30 years or more until they reach any sort of popularity. I like to think I keep myself updated in the fashion world but I have never heard of Beijing’s show. They need to use fashion magazines and websites to promote the new look of the show.

  3. I definitely think the main thing that Beijing should be doing to draw global attention to its fashion week is attempting to find a niche. The “big four” all represent a unique take on the fashion week experience because of the cities they take place in, I think. Beijing doesn’t seem to have that unique perspective just yet, although I’m sure there are many talented designers within Beijing and many excellent ideas. The only way it’s going to get as much hype as the New York or Paris fashion weeks, no matter how much promotion is done to bring attention to it, is if it offers something that the “big four” don’t have.

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