Style is a global language now - just look at the fashion weeks thriving in places as far away as Kazakhstan, Russia and Nigeria. While fashion scenes are popping up all over the world, China's love of style is well documented. The vast nation is by far the world's biggest consumer of luxury goods, accounting for a huge amount of Western labels revenues. What's often overlooked, however, is the country's domestic scene.
Hidden down a backstreet in Beijing's Sanlitun district lies fashion-forward boutique Anchoret, which serves up a curated selection of designer goods from the likes of Vetements, Yohji Yamamoto, Yang Li, UNDERCOVER and Lemaire. Take a look at the store's FW15 lookbook for proof that contemporary styling and avant-garde looks don't just exist in the world's traditional fashion hubs.
We caught up with Anchoret's co-founder Kayuet "Nicky" Chau to get the heads up on China's thriving fashion scene.
How are Chinese youths’ tastes evolving? What labels and styles are they into?
In recent years, luxury high-end fashion and social media has grown rapidly in China, meaning young people can easily access fashion news and trends from everywhere in the world. The fashion taste of young people here is more and more inclined towards the West.
The style of Chinese youths is generally more leisure and sport-oriented. You could easily find youngsters on the street wearing high-end brands like Rick Owens, Y-3, Givenchy, Thom Browne and YEEZY.
How is the Chinese sneaker scene? Are there big collectors? What sneakers are the most popular?
Sneakers are very popular in China, and many people are willing to pay a high prices for them. In addition to Nike and adidas, Rick Owens, Y-3, YEEZY and Louboutin are the most popular sneakers seen on Chinese streets in recent years.
It’s common knowledge that the luxury sector is slowing down in China now - what do you think will happen in the future?
We believe that luxury and high-end fashion labels will be more and more integrated with fast fashion in coming years. Luxury and high-end houses are designing more items that are suitable for daily wear, and more affordable and casual lines are being released in order to attract and expand their market segments.
Large brands like Uniqlo which collaborated with designers like Jil Sander, UNDERCOVER and Lemaire, or H&M with Maison Margiela, Alexander Wang and Balmain, etc. demonstrate the direction that luxury and high-end brands will go in the near future, in our opinion.
What are China’s fashion weeks like? Are there any Chinese designers or brands we should look out for?
Compared to the fashion week in other countries, China’s fashion week is still young and new to the market sector. Although now they can only offer limited brands and lack diversity, we think that it will take some time to grow and will eventually be a good platform for new designers to showcase their works. Ma Ke, Yang Li, Uma Wang and Deepmoss are our picks for up and coming Chinese fashion designers to look out for.
How do Chinese youth use the internet to find out about style? Is it through their own or are they looking at Western publications and blogs?
In recent years, foreign magazines, publications and online social media are becoming much more popular in China than before. Although many foreign websites can still not be accessed from mainland China, so they still tend to use local social media and websites to obtain fashion news and updates. In addition, there is a tendency to follow popular bloggers and fashionistas as role models.
How regional is Chinese style? Do different cities have their own unique tastes and looks?
We do find that different factors would directly affect the dressing habits in different regions in China, such as culture, climate and body types, etc. For example, people from the south and the north, people could have obvious different dressing styles and needs due to the mentioned factors.
Why do you think China manufactures so much clothing, but hasn’t produced any big brands of its own?
China’s education system could be the main reason. It is very different from Western education, there is not much emphasis on creativity in education, and the lack of intellectual property rights education leads to very limited creative industry and talent in China. The country is limited to producing by imitating others without creativity.
How are people using social media channels like WeChat and Weibo to access fashion? And how are brands using these channels to communicate with people?
They usually subscribe to some fashion users and media on WeChat or Weibo to access fashion news and trends. Many well-known luxury brands like Hermes, Dior, Chanel and Gucci, or high-end labels like Alexander Wang, Maison Margiela and KENZO have been promoting themselves and interacting with their audiences with WeChat and Weibo.
How does the Chinese resell market work? How do people get hold of Supreme products, for example?
The resell market has been rapidly growing in recent years in China, due to the fact that many high demand foreigner brands still have no distributors in the country. Reseller shops and personal resellers are acting as a buyer to source these goods from overseas, then resell the goods to the domestic market for a profit. The perfect example of this would be Supreme.