As I reflect on my time spent living in China back in 2009, I try to remember the street style I observed as worn by its youth. While I was in Shanghai, it’s not to say that I didn’t see an emerging trend of fashionable insight, but I would say as a collective, older and newer generations were still falling short behind the rest of the world.
And I think the word “collective” is exactly the problem. Accustomed to a collective society, the Chinese people are historically programmed to think as ONE. Under Mao Zedong leadership and even filtering down into todays society, collectivism was and still is a way of life. Individual thought and success can be heavily looked down upon. Even unique province- specific dialects have been over shadowed and swallowed up by the national language of HanYu, or Mandarin as the rest of the world knows it.
But I digress.
The street style of China could be described as amateur, filled with imitation logos and low end replicas of expensive styles.
However, as of recent, the newer Chinese generations are seeking outside help and guidance for How-To lessons on becoming more prideful and confident individuals. Unfortunately after years of cultivation and education in a collective society, this is a difficult task. Eloping abroad to learn the ways of Europe and the West will only help up to a certain point; what they really seek can only come from within their own conscious.
When it comes to fashion design, it is clear China has a very bright future. It’s just a matter of how well and how quickly designers can be confident in their own innovative ideas.
Qiu Hao is probably one of THE first Chinese designers I found to have a disappointing reflection on his abroad education at Central Saint Martins. So many established designers attend CSM, it was a bit surprising to read. But after understanding his reason for disappointment, it made perfect sense. Qiu Hao attended the University after already having launched his own line “Neither Nor.” Therefore his experience and expectations varied from those of his classmates.
“In my opinion, what the Chinese fashion industry needs are people who have studied and understand fashion, not those who have worked for big brands.”
At CSM, they taught him more how to work for a luxury brand, rather than teaching him how to truly understanding fashion at its most basic elements. In order for the Chinese fashion industry to grow and stray away from a reputation based on fraudulent ideas and product, they need to increase their confidence levels in regards to their own creativity.
“Allow me use a metaphor: it’s just like a dog imitating how a human walks, but with only two feet. Unfortunately, a dog is still a dog, and walking with two feet becomes staggering. Designers on the mainland are creating a fancy box that attracts eyes abroad, but actually it’s empty inside. There isn’t much substance. Mainland designers need do what they want, believe in themselves and follow their instincts.”
As a Fashion Hall of Famer, Qiu Hao is making waves on runway’s around the world. Winner of the 2008 International Woolmark Prize and nominee by WGSN for the Breakthrough Designer Award in 2001, joining top designers such as Karl Lagerfeld, Donna Karan and Giorgio Armani, Qiu Hao has since topped the world’s list of up and coming designers.
He was recently named one of Forbes Top 25 most important people in the Chinese fashion industry. Qiu Hao opened up the 21st century with his ready-to-wear label “Neither Nor” in 2001-which currently sells in 9 different department stores around China. In 2003, Qiu collaborated with his now business partner QiaoQiao and opened his own store “OneByOne” in Shanghai.
He obtained his MA in Women’s Wear at Central Saint Martins in London and two years later established his namesake label QIUHAO. The collections thus far have been featured in major publications such as Vogue, Elle, Harpaar’s Bazzar,WWD, Wall Street Journal and BBC.
Although Qiu Hao does not immediately admit that his collections are influenced by Chinese heritage, his fashions have been compared to that of the Peking Opera. Back in 2009, he even designed a series of eight inch platform heeled shoes that resembled the boots worn in Peking Opera. Although he does not intentionally incorporate Chinese elements, they end up shining through regardless. You can’t deny background and culture. Its embedded.
Although his designs are often on a slim silhouette, he actually enjoys ‘anti-fashion’ designs that deconstruct traditional tailoring. His most recognized collection is the Serpentine collection.( See below link for more information)
Qiu Hao is an artist by nature. We can better understand his view of the world and his approach to building a collection by looking at the materials he uses and how he orchestrates them together.
His figurative and abstract designs are indicative reflections of his inner world and a sumptuous outside world. The genius of his work lies in his ability to capture the ‘nothingness’ and the brightness that others often fail to see amongst the chaos of daily life.
It emphasizes the way fear and anxiety fit together to form a peaceful energy. He is a minimalist designer, as can be seen in his spring. Summer 2014 collection that debuted at the Shanghai fashion week. The hand woven, heavy sheepskin and lightweight silky materials, were layered and fashioned in a way that resembled traditional basket weaving.
Most of his pieces are designed to appeal to both the eastern and western forms of perception and interpretation. While the East prefers feel, the west prefers sight-subjective experience vs objective knowledge. “It is through the subjective experience that we obtain the power to confront the world and ourselves.”
Main point: We can not simply rely on our eyes, we must take a closer look.
Check out the rest of his collection at:
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