We caught up with some of China’s most exciting young labels to talk about the changing market, the local scene and why they’re proud to be “Made in China”.
Museum of Friendship
Museum of Friendships designer Momo Wang explores the bonds shared between girls and the memories female friends carry into womanhood. The sentiment is reflected in her collections that merge Sofia Coppola dreams with a modern esoteric edge.
Year Museum of Friendship was founded: 2014
Museum of Friendship muse: Talented girls like Tavi Gevinson.
Museum of Friendship soundtrack: The Devil is in the Details, Chemical Brothers.
What are the advantages of being Made in China?
Its actually possible to make everything you want to here, you dont have the limits that exist overseas. You can always find a factory or a seamstress or someone willing to work with you and create your crazy vision.
Whats exciting about being a Chinese brand right now?
There is an atmosphere of creativity that is buzzing right now. Can you believe that almost all of my friends have their own labels? You can always find the right person to talk about any project both within and outside of fashion, we are shaping something brand new out here!
After graduating from Central Saint Martins, Xuzhi Chen—or Daniel to his London crew—worked in a number of British designer's studios, including Craig Green and J.W. Anderson. His intricate woven work has already caught the attention of stockists like Joyce and Opening Ceremony. Last year he was nominated for the LVMH Award, he followed it up by being nominated for the 2016 H&M Designer Award.
Year your label was founded: 2015
Xu Zhi Muse: Charlotte Gainsbourg
XZ Soundtrack: Nocturne No.2 in E-Flat, Op.9, No.2.
What's the biggest difference between how fashion is consumed in the East versus West?
I think while the East is trying to figure out what pieces can be added to their closets, a big part of the West is questioning the need for having another piece produced in the first place.
What are the advantages of being 'Made in China'?
China has been known as "the world's factory" for decades: almost anything can be produced here. Because China is now losing its competitiveness of low cost production to countries like Bangladesh, many factories are actively seeking to start working with small businesses. The workmanship is generally better because of the experience they have.
Designers Qiaoran Huang and Joshua Hupper met while interning for Diane Von Furstenberg in NYC, they spent time designing for other houses before founding their own brand at the tail end of the global financial crisis. BABYGHOST is split between New York City and Shanghai, this transient East meets West lifestyle is a constant inspiration for the duo.
Year BABYGHOST was founded: 2010, but we are just celebrating five years of selling and production.
BABYGHOST muse: Thanks to social media our BABYGHOST muse can be found in a variety of cities around the world. I guess as "official" muses we have the pleasure of dressing a lot of Chinese super models, including Xiao Wen Ju who is a friend.
BABYGHOST soundtrack: Our studio soundtrack changes dramatically based on mood but our top three are The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Nine Inch Nails and the Wu-Tang Clan.
What do you consider the advantages of being 'Made in China':
In our case the fact that we produce our clothing from a factory that we have owned from the onset of our business is a huge advantage. It allows us to have hands-on influence during the development, production and distribution of our clothing.
What's exciting about being a Chinese brand right now?
Huge population aside, China has a booming youth culture that does look to the rest of the world when it comes to fashion trends, but has a very distinct innocence about the way they approach 'personal style'—which pays respect to their own culture and history. Designing and finding inspiration in China is unlike anything in the world.
5 Min Wu
Min Wu's designs are concerned with function, tech, beauty and sharing the traditions of Chinese daily life. The London College of Fashion graduate has garnered attention for her use of unusual materials to create garments with a sense of weightless otherworldliness. In addition to her mainline, Wu recently launched her diffusion line 5min. It's comprised of fresh streetwear that flips traditional Chinese imagery into playful hoodies and tees.
Year Min Wu was founded: 2015.
Min Wu muse: The people around me.
Min Wu Soundtrack: Recently we're playing Okey Dokey by Mino and Zico.
What is the biggest difference between starting a brand in China versus the UK?
The UK is better to start on a smaller scale, you don't need to have too many styles and looks to start with, but China is about production, production, production! You need the team and SKUs. What's great is that everything can grow so fast in China.
What's exciting about being a Chinese brand right now?
I'm bringing more Chinese contemporary life and culture into my design hence letting more people overseas know more about it, I'm super excited to be a translator!
After graduating from Parsons School of Design, Lin Guan worked in the menswear department at Calvin Klein. There she learnt the power of classic, enduring design and observed the company's incredible marketing prowess. That CK aesthetic is alive in her new label Short Sentence—named in honour of Guan's eternal pursuit for direct, impactful minimalism.
Year Short Sentence was founded: 2015
Short Sentence Muse: There are many charming women around me who give me design inspiration. If I were to pick a celebrity I always like Faye Wong and Sophia Coppola.
Short Sentence Soundtrack: Nana, The 1975.
What do you see as the biggest difference between how fashion is consumed in the East versus West?
The Chinese market is catching up, but is still not at the same level of sophistication. You notice when people in China buy luxury or designer brands they prefer show pieces. After I moved back to China from NYC I could barely find anything I could wear everyday. That was what drove me to start Short Sentence.
What does "Made in China" mean in 2016?
For us, "Made in China" should have a different meaning now. It's no longer about low cost. With increasing labor cost, decreasing export demand, many of the small-to-mid sized factories are now working with independent brands. Chinese designers have a responsibility to work with these local factories, to help them improve their manufacturing techniques and innovate a sustainable business model.
Interviews & Images by Courtney D read CD's entire Shanghai Fashion Week coverage up on i-D.