Main Image: Courtesy Yan Qing Li

The Insider's Guide to Shanghai Fashion Week

This season Shanghai Fashion Week prepares for its largest event yet, featuring over 1,000 designers and brands showing across runways, presentations, events and tradeshows. Here's ORDRE's buyer's guide.

Shanghai Fashion Week runs from October 11 - 17 and SS’19 is a fresh new take on the domestic industry. Showcasing more than 100 fashion collections - both on-schedule and off - across a range of venues and platforms, this season’s event will also feature more than 1000 designers and brands exhibiting at official trade shows.

The Organising Committee continues to use its tripartite approach to propel the domestic industry, with SS’19 streamlining these events in a more coherent manner than we’ve seen in previous years. Using collection showcases, trade business and themed-events, Shanghai Fashion Week’s star continues to rise. Less clear is whether Shanghai is still set on becoming part of the global fashion week structure - turning the big four into five - or whether it is content with the success of its internal market, which, given the direction of the world economy, may amount to far more.

Showcases

Shanghai Fashion Week runs across the main Xintiandi venue and Labelhood, the home of emerging design. Since it was set up by Tasha Liu, Labelhood has held the monopoly on China’s cool, independent brands. This year, however, a number are switching to the main Xintiandi: Duo Shushu/Tong, Wan Hung and Wanbing Huang’s diffusion line At-One-Ment will all now transition onto Xintiandi’s runways. The significance of this should not be overlooked. Established favourites like Shanghai local Ji Cheng and Beijing’s Ban Xiaoxue will also join China’s commercial brands such as C+Series and Youppie!

Labelhood continues its idiosyncratically nomadic approach to hosting, each year providing guests with unique access to a new part of the City’s more unconventional spaces: churches, government buildings, apartment blocks. Venue choice has always been an integral part of Labelhood’s innovative vision, and this season it takes up residence at the Power Station of Design (psD), a creative offshoot of the city’s Power Station of Art. Set within Yung Ho Chang’s architectural box designs - transparent cubes based on traditional Chinese streetside shopping - it will play well with Labelhood’s marketplace vibe.

As well as regulars Yirintian, Feng Chen Wang (this time in collaboration with Converse), and Angel Chen, who this year takes the honour of closing proceedings, the schedule also includes newcomers Susan Fang and Ming Ma alongside Ying Pei Studio, Swaying, 8on8 and Sirloin.

“Tradeshows and showrooms, despite being only a recent phenomenon at Shanghai Fashion Week, now dominate the event. ”

Showrooms

Tradeshows and showrooms, despite being only a recent phenomenon at Shanghai Fashion Week, now dominate the event. Such B2B platforms draw domestic brands in their hundreds while also providing an opportunity for international brands and companies to test the market. Partners include Ontimeshow, DFO Showroom, Tube, Showroom Shanghai, ALTER Showroom and NOT Showroom all joining the fashion week’s official tradeshow Mode (estimating 3,000 visitors). Established and emerging are both represented, with Mode celebrating its 8th edition and Tube showroom giving a reliable snapshot of what’s new.

Smaller showrooms and private VIP rooms will also appear all over the city as the network of trade possibilities expands season on season. This year international showroom Tranoï collaborates with Balian Fashion Group on a Nelly Rodi trend forecasting event as well as an immersive fashion show featuring brands like Twins Florence and Catherine Hammel.

Events

As well as all the usual opening parties, Shanghai plays host to a range of conferences exploring such themes as the negative impact of fashion, and perspectives on the global industry. Highlights include an open forum from Chinese sustainability leader, Shaway Ye’s new venture Yehyehyeh, entitled Can Fashion be Sustainable? Split into three parts, the forum invites senior management from the industry to discuss and encourage change within fashion.

The BoF China summit will also take place for the second year, this time at the HKRI Taikoo Hui Event Centre. Guest speakers and thought leaders hoping to ignite debate include Gucci’s Marco Bizzarri, Jessica Liu, Tmall’s Head of Fashion and Luxury and Intime’s department store group president, Chen Xiaodong.

International

Less innovative is the selection from the Shanghai International Fashion Showcase (SIFS) which this season includes Mikael D and Bebe as their chosen designers. For the first time Bailian Group will present Daks at the Group’s new Fashion Centre on the Huangpu district.

In only fifteen years, Shanghai Fashion Week has gone from upstart to juggernaut, taking China and the rest of Asia by storm. Despite this, it still only manages to attract limited global attention: few international buyers attend, and media coverage remains niche. Though obviously constituent of trends in our domestic media perspectives more generally, where globally significant events in China receive limited attention compared to their Western counterparts (compare the ascendancies of Trump and Xi), savvy industry insiders should open their eyes to the quality on offer before it becomes a mainstream consensus.