In her new book 30-Second Fashion: The 50 key modes, garments, and designers, editor Rebecca Arnold collates a quick fire guide to fashion around the world. In this extract, contributor Rebecca Straub brings you the debrief on fashion in China. You can also read the 30 second guides to Tokyo and São Paulo on The Culture Trip.
China’s rich history of dress and manufacture can be seen in the work of its contemporary fashion designers
including Merisis, Dancing Wolves and RanFan.
Clothing in China has long been used to express status and political affiliation, as well as personal style. In the seventeenth century Manchu-Qing rulers asserted their authority over the Han population by creating strict rules for imperial dress, and in the twentieth century the Mao suit came to represent the dissolution of class distinctions promised under communism. Amidst the growth of China’s middle class and accompanying consumer culture, the Chinese fashion industry has flourished in the twenty-first century. Luxury brands including Louis Vuitton and Michael Kors have opened stores in mainland China, and Chinese tourists represent the fastest-growing demographic for luxury spending. Yet these high-end retailers face strong competition from contemporary Chinese designers. In 1997, China established its own fashion week, creating a public stage to showcase homegrown talent. Brands such as Dancing Wolves, SUN TOMORROW, and Merisis take to Beijing’s catwalks twice a year to show their work. In 2005, Condé Nast started Vogue China. ‘Vogue China readers are mostly working women, dressing is only a small part of their lives, so I have to capture the other parts,’ stated the magazine’s Editor, Angelica Cheung, describing an audience eager to absorb high fashion as one of many contemporary pursuits.
Editor-in-Chief of Vogue China
Design director of Hangzhou Initial Life Fashion Co., Ltd. and SUN TOMORROW
Head designer for Merisis
The 50 Key Modes, garments and designers
by Dr Rebecca Arnold (Ed.)
The Ivy Press / Wordery
160pp. / £14.99