Re-shaping innovations in the contemporary fashion show: emerging Chinese designers in the global fashion ecosystem
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date31/07/2025
In the contemporary fashion system the number of Chinese designers has increased dramatically: they have formed a ‘new wave’ of design power that is changing China’s global fashion status. Some Chinese designers showcase their collections at Paris, New York, Milan and London fashion weeks and demonstrate their design capabilities and desire to promote the global image of Chinese fashion. However, existing research on this topic does not fully reveal the processes behind the rise in growing Chinese fashion dominance, particularly for a new generation of Chinese designers. This thesis investigates how emerging Chinese fashion brands are reshaping Chinese design power and how the international creative labour that is presented and exemplified by emerging international-based Chinese designers dynamically operates through the production of fashion shows at different international fashion weeks to systematically bring innovations to contemporary fashion shows within the global fashion ecosystem. .To explore this growing phenomenon, an extended period of ethnographic research was undertaken for 24 months between March 2016 and September 2018. Participant observation, interviews and case studies were used to examine the youngest generation of UK-educated, internationally-based Chinese designers showing at Paris, London and Shanghai Fashion Weeks. Further to this participation in show production was undertaken with Chinese designers Youjia Jin, Xuzhi Chen and Victor Wong. This thesis finds that innovation in fashion show presentation is a key medium that is employed in reshaping Chinese fashion while accelerating the increasing dominance of China’s fashion power. The re-shaped innovations are embodied in two main perspectives. The first perspective is the new aesthetics of visual innovation in fashion shows brought about by immersive fashion performances featuring physical theatre. The second perspective is the forming of a designer collective that advocates and applies this visual innovation in the global fashion ecosystem, constantly changing the inner mechanisms of this ecosystem. The self-identified independence of designers is, in essence, a cultural identification and interpretation formed within the emerging community of IBC designers who seek autonomy and freedom from traditional Chinese economic, cultural and political constraints to better engage with the multiplicity of global fashion culture. Shanghai Fashion Week, in particular, has seen unprecedented maturation, combining socialist characteristics with a carnivalesque atmosphere, resulting in mass appeal as well as a professional event that is associated with rapid Chinese fashion modernity, attracting Chinese diaspora designers to showcase their iconoclastic work and, thereby, collecting and accelerating the accumulation of aesthetic innovation.