Text by Zhou Jin Photographs by Wei Zhong
One of the most important gatherings of the Chinese apparel industry, the 20th China International Clothing & Accessories Fair (CHIC 2012), themed “Crossing,” opened on March 26 in Beijing, attracting more than 1,000 clothing brands from around the world.
Born in 1993, CHIC welcomed its 20th birthday this year. Its history aptly mirrors the evolution of the Chinese fashion industry, which survived harsh challenges due to the invasion of foreign brands after the country’s admission to the World Trade Organization and a sharp drop in demand during the 2008-09 global financial crisis. In recent years, particularly, the Chinese fashion industry has faced other challenges such as changes in consumption and branding patterns, fluctuation of cotton prices, and increases in labor and energy costs. In this environment, apparel enterprises are eager to find a way to optimize their necessary resources.
The organizers of CHIC 2012 hoped to offer a platform for Chinese apparel manufacturers to systemically examine the development of the clothing industry and rekindle optimism for the future of the trade. On the other hand, fashion brands hoped to showcase themselves to every participant at the event.
Currently, Chinoiserie, or China-inspired style, is sweeping the international fashion market. In February 2012, Chinese brands EVE and Exception staged a fashion show at the Chinese Embassy in the UK, which attracted considerable attention from a wide variety of British stakeholders, as well as overseas media. “Chinese design” became a hot topic in the European region.
More interestingly, the international fashion market’s concerns about the Eastern country stretch further than Chinese design. Not long ago, Louis Vuitton released shoes with strong Chinese flavor, and spectators at an Ermenegildo Zegna fashion show were astonished to hear songs of Bai Guang, a Chinese singer of the 1930s, accompanying the show.