When the fashion world talks about China, it is usually in terms of the country’s purchasing power as consumers and its seemingly insatiable thirst for Western luxury brands. But a new generation of Chinese designers is pushing boundaries with startlingly original creations – and they are gaining recognition at home and abroad.
Over the next two weeks, Susie Lau presents her choices for the most exciting talent to emerge from the country, showing us that China is not just an economic power to watch but a creative one too.
Born in Qingdao, China, Zhang studied at London’s Central Saint Martins college of fashion. After a stint at Dior, he was mentored by Angelica Cheung, editor of Chinese Vogue, before launching his own collection. His style has been described as “Chinese tradition meets Western influence and modernity.”
Xander Zhou started out in industrial design in China, before moving to the Netherlands to study fashion. He is one of the new leading lights in menswear – and his industrial background influences his designs. He established his own label in 2007 and is passionate about menswear “For me, fabric is the most interesting area of investigation in menswear,” he says, “as well as the relation between fabric and the shape of the male body.”
Born in China, Li was educated in the UK, studying for a BA in womenswear at the London College of Fashion and gaining an MA in Womenswear Knitwear from the Royal College of Art. Graduating in 2013, Li’s final collection featured giant, sculptural knitwear pieces that were dipped in silicone. She is currently in Italy, where she was picked as a ‘next big thing’ by Vogue Italia.
The youngest of the four designers, Yang Li was born in Beijing but grew up in Perth in Western Australia – and now lives in London. He won a scholarship to Central Saint Martins and worked with the likes of Raf Simons before launching his own line. His signature style is “luxury with a twist”, working with leather and calf-skin to create a wearable, street-style aesthetic.
Susie Lau’s profiles of Chinese designers, Designed in China, runs on BBC World News from 11-24 October. BBC Culture will present four more picks of young Chinese talent next week.
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