The rest of the world is finally paying attention.
Global luxury brands may still be trying to find the unique equation to exploit the elusive and prolific consumers in China, but Chinese designers have always had a head start in understanding what consumers in their country are looking for, by especially during the pandemic.
There’s no doubt that many still covet the latest and greatest international luxury brands, but for today’s Gen Z shoppers, mixing cool emerging local designers with their Chanels, Diors, and Bottega Venetas doesn’t has never had so much weight. With two Chinese designers, Rui Zhou and Shuting Qiu, among the 20 names shortlisted for the semi-finals of the LVMH Young Fashion Designers Prize (aka one of the most prestigious fashion awards), a new generation of designers are making waves by showcasing their talent and personality – and the rest of the world is finally paying attention.
Take note of the following seven Chinese designers, including Next in fashion alum Angel Chen and emerging talent from New York Private Policy. If they’re not already on your radar, they should be.
RUI ZHOU of RUI
As one of nine finalists for the 2021 LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers (and the first Chinese designer to ever make it so far!), Rui Zhou has recently been an editorial favorite for daring it girls. (See Dua Lipa on Rolling stonefebruary 2021 cover and Lisa from Blackpink on Nylon Chinacover from January 2020.) Known for her sultry asymmetrical cutout knit pieces held together by tiny mother-of-pearl beads, Parsons MFA graduate Zhou is not only drawn to the idea of imperfection, but also puts showcasing her own identity as a Chinese immigrant living in New York – navigating life abroad while maintaining long-distance relationships with friends and family in China – through her designs.
LINING of LINING
Former Olympic gymnast turned sportswear designer Li Ning founded her performance-focused brand in 1990. Today, she is known for her innovative designs and authentic homage to Ning’s nationality. (See Chinese characters and traditional prints woven into the patterns.) While not new on its own, the sportswear brand was initially sold exclusively through luxury retailers in China, but the global market has taken notice. its elevated and redesigned athletic designs for everyday pieces. from clothes to shoes – and he’s been at the forefront of performance wear and athletic wear ever since.
ANGEL CHEN of ANGEL CHEN
You might recognize this Central Saint Martins graduate as one of the early contenders for Netflix’s Next in Fashion. Chen was one half of the beloved Dragon Princess duo; Minju Kim, the other half, won the show’s design competition. Although Chen, from Shenzhen, did not win the $ 250,000 prize, his bold designs, technical expertise and sustainable practices have certainly caught the attention of the world, including Canada Goose. The Canadian outerwear giant asked Chen to be its very first guest designer to create a capsule collection last spring, which was so successful that it updated the assortment for the fall.
LIUSHU LEI AND YUTONG JIANG of SHUSHU / TONG
After making their mark at Simone Rocha and Gareth Pugh, London College of Fashion MA graduates Liushu Lei and Yutong Jiang joined forces in 2015 to launch their Shanghai-based womenswear brand, Shushu / Tong. They design for the daring modern young lady who’s playful and girly at heart, so expect to see decidedly feminine details (read “ruffles, bows and tulle”) paired with bold silhouettes, ornate hardware and techniques. of timeless couture in their collections.
HAORAN LI AND SIYING QU of PRIVATE POLICY
Founded by Chinese immigrants Haoran Li and Siying Qu, Private Policy is a New York-based gender-neutral brand known for its progressive and inclusive approach to fashion designs. Combining Li’s know-how in fabric handling and Qu’s love for figures, Parsons graduates use their collections as a medium to tell stories and initiate discussions on topics that inspire them; for example, for their Fall 2021 collection, they looked at the history of Chinese immigrants to America during the 19th century Gold Rush. In the absence of defined rules on who can wear what, Private Policy aims to create this playful Club Kids side while giving the wearer the freedom to personalize their look.
QIU CLOSURE of QIU CLOSURE
Shanghai-based designer Shuting Qiu quickly became a talent to watch after graduating from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. After her designs were featured on Mandopop singer Jolin Tsai Ugly beauty album cover, Net-a-Porter and China-based retailers like Joyce rushed to stock the Hangzhou native’s colorful and quirky designs. Qiu is influenced by the cultures and paintings of the world, and therefore, his drawings are filled with vibrant colors, intricate embroidery and bold designs. We’re not surprised to see figures like Katy Perry and Rita Ora as fans of the brand. Both pop queens were spotted in her looks – Perry even wore a full look on the cover of his EP Cosmic energy.
MIN LIU of MRS. MIN and XIAN SHENG
Known for her traditional and contemporary designs and for blending delicate Chinese aesthetics with modern functionality, Xiamen-based designer and former London College of Fashion alumnus Min Liu has been widely regarded for her designs since her brand’s founding in 2010. The once exclusive womenswear brand recently dipped its toes into the menswear world with the debut of Xian Sheng. Aptly named, the line consists of bespoke pieces inspired by traditional Chinese motifs and Shanghainese tailoring for the modern gentleman. And the expansion doesn’t stop there. Being an interior enthusiast himself, Toronto-born President and Creative Director of Xian Sheng Ian Hylton Recount Vogue Business that the fashion brand hopes to expand into the lifestyle arena.
This article first appeared in the Winter 2022 issue of FASHION.