Chinese Menswear brands looking for fresh air
So it ended with an anti-pollution mask! At the Shanghai Fashion week, a pollution mask printed with black and white geometrical patterns was given to the audience after the show of the menswear brand Blackgateone. A little disturbing gift imagined by Blackgateone’s artistic director Hadas Zucker reminded Shanghainese fashion lovers this cold fact: fashion aims at capturing l’air du temps but what if that air becomes unbreathable? As a tentative of response to the so-called famous Chinese Airpocalyse, the Blackgateone’s collection provided a palette of multifunctional fashion pieces – two-in-one scarf and coat and leather belt – to equip urban nomads and enable them to survive in the city or escape quickly.
Blackgateone catwalk AW 2014/2015
Escapism from polluted cities and the appeal of unspoiled landscapes of ancient China inspired most of Menswear designers presenting their collections at 2014 Shanghai Fashion Week.
The collection of Y-Vision Homme, designed by Ye Weicheng (叶伟城) presented a rejuvenated versions of the traditional draped coats and sleeveless tunics of the Asian cavaliers.
Y-Vision Homme catwalk AW 2014/2015
Li Dengting who studied art before becoming founding the brand Wander showed fashion silhouettes that evoked those traditional peddlers and monks wandering in the vast landscapes of Chinese traditional paintings.
Wander catwalk AW 2014/2015
The quest of a more natural lifestyle was perceptible as well in the collections of Tony Wear and Tony Jeans. Zhang Tong (张童), head of design of Tony wear presented a combination of formal looks and casual outfits accessorized with colorful bicycles.
Tony Wear & Tony Jeans AW 2014/2015
The Japanese imagination is another important influence of the Chinese trendier fashion brands. Sankuanz’s catwalk designed by Shang Guanzhe (上官喆) was influenced by the street style of Tokyo.
Sankuanz catwalk AW 2014/2015
The Shanghai fashion week offers every year an interesting view on the fast growing Chinese menswear market. What are the facts to keep in mind?
The menswear fashion business has grown steadily in recent years. According to Frost & Sullivan forecast, at a yearly growth rate of 15.8% per year, the menswear market reached 86 billion USD) in 2013. Chinese men are avid fashion shoppers and many of them are willing to spend a large part of their income to buy clothes and accessories. Menswear is becoming the second best-selling category of major e-commerce websites just behind womenswear. As an example, Septwolves, a casual Chinese fashion brand, generated revenue of 48 million USD on Taobao in 2013.
The formal and casual style represent around 60% of the China market value. The undisputed leaders of premium formal wear are Zegna, Boss and Armani trailed by a large suite of followers that include Satchi, Vasto, S.D Spontini, Boni, Lampo or Tony Xear. A key player in that category, Tony Wear and Tony Jeans have a total of 200 stores in China and a turnover of 750 million USD for the year 2013.
The trendier fashion segment represents an estimate 35% of the menswear market in China. Japanese, Korean and niche western brands such as Mastermind, Instantology or Kitsuné are leading the trends followed by niche lables like Blackgateone, Wander and the other participants to the Shanghai Fashion week.
With eight hundred menswear brands in China, around six hundred Chinese domestic brands and two hundred foreign brands, the competition is becoming harsher. Shanghai menswear brands are becoming conscious that an upgrade of the design is becoming mandatory to seduce China’s male consumers and give them with a draft of fresh air.
Genevieve Flaven is CEO of Style-Vision Asia, a trend agency based in Shanghai.