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China Daily

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Friday, April 12, 2019, 18:14
Support and recognition for domestic designers on the rise
By He Qi
Friday, April 12, 2019, 18:14 By He Qi

Caroline Hu prepares her new collection with a model to showcase her designs at Shanghai Fashion Week at Tank Shanghai on March 31, 2019. (PHOTO / CHINA DAILY)

Thanks to strong local support and the pursuit of individualism and creativity instead of copying the creations of more established brands, Chinese designers now enjoy more recognition from their international peers, according to the Chinese design community.

"I will not rush to expand my brand. It is far more important to focus on designing a collection that allows people to understand what you want to say."

Caroline Hu, fashion designer

"Chinese designers used to have a bad reputation because there was a lack of originality in the past. But platforms like Labelhood and Shanghai Fashion Week have banded together independent designers who believe in originality to correct this perception," says Caroline Hu.

Hu could be seen as the beacon of creativity that illustrates the reality of the Chinese fashion scene today. Despite this being her first outing at SFW where she was showcasing her debut collection, Hu won the inaugural Business of Fashion China Prize.

Born in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, the New York-based Chinese designer thanked Labelhood, an incubator for emerging Chinese fashion designers, and retailer Lane Crawford for playing a key role in her success.

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"To prepare for a show is costly. I used up most of my budget to launch my collection at New York Fashion Week in February. Thankfully, Lane Crawford and Labelhood provided me with support to showcase my collection again at SFW. These two companies have been providing many opportunities for new designers to exhibit their works to the world," says Hu, who graduated from Central Saint Martins and the Parsons School of Design.

"I never imagined that I would get so much attention for my first collection. Many top publications, such as Vogue and i-D magazine, professionals and buyers came to view my collection. It surprised me that they aren't ignoring new Chinese designers."

Caroline Hu, fashion designer. (PHOTO / CHINA DAILY)

Hu, who boasts experience working for major labels such as Tory Burch, DKNY and Alexander Wang, adds that it is clear Chinese designers are now making a bigger impact in the global fashion scene than ever before.

"Some of my designer friends such as Angel Chen are active in different fashion weeks, receive support from international organizations and have even been nominated for many design awards," she says.

Yang Guidong, who founded his Samuel Gui Yang label in 2015, shared the same sentiment. It was the fifth time he was showcasing his creations at SFW.

"The fashion industry in China is very different now. People have a higher aesthetic ability and a stronger sense of consumption. They now better understand design and do not blindly follow what the big brands are doing," he says.

"The recognition is obvious. More and more international retailers and buyers are approaching us Chinese designers these days," he adds. "Even though the Chinese fashion scene does not have as long a history and is not as mature as those in foreign countries, our industry is going through a period of exciting growth that reflects the immense potential within it."

When asked what advice she would give to her fellow emerging designers, Hu says that one of the key factors to success is being able to balance creativity with commercial objectives, and staying true to oneself.

READ MORE: More Chinese presence at New York Fashion Week

"If I want to make money, I could simply work for the big brands. But that's not what I want. You need to insist on having your own ideas. You need to remind yourself that business can be flexible," she says.

"I will not rush to expand my brand. It is far more important to focus on designing a collection that allows people to understand what you want to say."

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