In collaboration with Tmall, New York Fashion Week: The Shows is set to give young Chinese designers a platform in one of the world’s fashion capitals next month. Taking place at Spring Studios, Tmall’s “China Cool” event will showcase emerging Chinese design, in the latest NYFW/Tmall partnership and the largest since the two began collaborating in 2017.
Details remain scarce on which designers and brands will take part, but the previous NYFW/Tmall collaboration indicates it might ultimately be a full spectrum of design on show. Last September, Tmall promoted two up-and-coming labels, sportwear brand Particle Fever and designer Angel Chen (who will soon release a collaboration with H&M) alongside 25-year-old brand JNBY, which boasts hundreds of stores throughout China.
Tmall also announced plans to take part in European fashion week events in Paris and Milan, saying more details would be revealed in the months ahead.
General Manager of Tmall Fashion & Luxury, Jessica Liu, said of the New York partnership, “Chinese consumers are increasingly experimental and individualistic. They are driving this rising trend of ‘China Cool,’ where designs are focused on emphasizing authenticity and heritage.”
The question is whether this event will garner local attention or simply get lost in the mix amid dozens of other events and high-profile shows. Young Chinese designers regularly show at Fashion Week around the world, but the number who have become household names remains stubbornly low.
Earlier this year, Parsons graduate Leaf Xia made waves with her head-turning designs, and Shanghai’s Masha Ma is an annual fixture in Paris, but it’s going to be difficult for Tmall’s China Cool showcase to break out without splashy designers taking part.
For its part, Tmall seems confident, and at any rate, the event — like all events Tmall does outside of China — is much more focused on domestic Chinese customers than attracting Western shoppers to Chinese brands. Last year, Tmall used NYFW as a testing ground for“Tmall China Day,” a see-now-buy-now shoppable event aimed at China that showcased four designers and brands — PEACEBIRD, Li-Ning, Chen Peng, and CLOT. Are those now highly sought-after brands in North America or Europe? No – but that wasn’t really the point.
All conjecture aside, depending on who Tmall deems “cool” enough for the event, there’s always potential that they might attract New York’s famously picky fashion buyers. Last year’s “Fashion Week China Day” pop-up at Opening Ceremony managed to make Lao Gan Ma hoodies and Yunnan Baiyao look hip. So, there’s always potential they could do it again this year.