World Fashion Brands Embrace Chinese Elements

China’s growing appetite for luxury goods has prompted international fashion houses to incorporate Chinese design motifs in their clothing designs.Picture: Armani’s store in Beijing.

Chinese Traditional Clothing

Many traditional Chinese designs such as Qing dynasty and Miao embroidery, folding fans and paper cutting have become popular with designers in the international fashion arena.

The fundamental reason that international fashion circles are becoming increasingly China savvy is that the nation’s purchasing power is becoming increasingly strong and that it is overtaking many rich Western countries as a top consumer of luxury goods in the world market.

Chinese Traditional Clothing

Noted designer Zhang Jicheng said: “In the past, the markets for international fashion brands were mostly in the US and Europe. So these brands used to hire Western celebrities as their endorsements. Now this long tradition is changing with the rise of the Chinese market which in broader terms refers to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore as well as mainland China.”

Chinese Traditional Clothing Chinese Traditional Clothing

“This is why many brands have begun to incorporate Chinese culture into their works,” said another noted designer Fan Ying. “However, any Chinese cultural heritage adopted by world brands would be used only as an addition to their products, to enrich their original designs. They would not change their basic style as each brand has its own soul,” Fan said.

In the view of national designer Li Xin, the fact that foreign designers want to take inspiration from China underscores the fact that eastern culture is catching on in the world and that they must follow this growing international trend.

Chinese Traditional Clothing

Noting that growing numbers of big international brands are eyeing the rise of the Chinese market, Li said “they not only take note of intangible Chinese cultural heritage, they also extend their attention to food, clothing and herbal medicine. China as an ancient Oriental culture is full of mystery to the Western world.”

Li pointed out that China’s heritage is profoundly rich. “We have 56 national traditional cultures and thousands of years of history. These unlimited cultural sources can never be exhausted.”

Jason Wu
Chinese Traditional Clothing

Will the growing use of traditional Chinese elements by foreign designers create pressure for China’s domestic designers? Zhang Jicheng had this to say: “Many Chinese designers simply follow trends as they lack the ability for independent thinking. They often simply copy Western fashions. Now they must see the spreading popularity of Chinese elements in the world as a challenge and seek to use them to their own advantage.”

Zhang said that at a time when China is gradually becoming a leading consumer of luxury goods, many international brands are seeking every possible means to grab a significant share of the Chinese market. When they move to embrace Chinese elements as a gateway to China, they actually are testing the waters, he added.

The expansion in China of Armani, a world famous fashion brand, is both aggressive and impressive, he noted. It first established online shopping operations in the United States, Europe and Japan. It then opened online stores in China using its Emporio Armani brand. Armani is the first major world brand to sell luxury goods in China via web sites established in the host country.

by Xiao Xiao @

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