Text by Zhou Jin Photographs by Lu Songtao
The China International Clothing and Accessories Fair (CHIC) is scheduled in March of every year to coincide with China International Fashion Week A/W. For the 19 years since its first session, “it has served as a barometer for the development of the country’s garment industry,” according to Chen Dapeng, vice president of the China National Garment Association.
The flagship store of Me & City, a Chinese brand, graces the most prominent position of Qianmen, one of Beijing’s busiest commercial areas. The store’s displays feature British supermodel Agyness Deyn and actor Orlando Bloom making selections. Although the manager was reluctant to disclose his shop’s daily sales, he remains confident that he beats his neighboring foreign brands such as Uniqlo, Zara, and H&M in daily turnover.
Only five years ago, Chinese brands were considered underdeveloped and lagging far behind their European and North American counterparts. Today, however, China’s garment brands can easily be found in almost all of China’s retail chain stores.
Antonino Laspina, commissioner of the Italian Trade Commission´s Beijing office, believes that Chinese people seek style and quality now that they are better informed on fashion, their quality of life has much improved, and their consumption capabilities have been enhanced.
“Years ago, fashion was not a priority for most people here,” remarks Antonino. “Today, however, many people are passionate about fashion thanks to the country’s economic development.”
Antonino hypothesizes that along with full bellies, the young generation is striving to enjoy an all-around better life, which includes the pursuit of fashion.
“Not only is China the largest market for garments, but it is the largest market with great potential for high-end fashion,” notes Professor Gu Qingliang from Dong-hua University. “China has served as a stage showcasing the charm of fashion from every culture.” Along with imports, domestic garment brands are recognizing China as an increasingly important market in the wake of the global financial crisis.