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Top 3 Asian new designers you need to know

Shanghai Fashion Week is always a treat – especially in post-pandemic China, where the event was back in full force after three years of disruption. While there was a sense of optimism about the country’s prospects, more than 70 designers showed how they are now emerging with a solid aesthetic and more stable, mature business models. That’s because they “have gradually clarified their routes in terms of brand design positioning,” as Xiaolei Lv, vice secretary-general of the Shanghai Fashion Week Committee, told Vogue Business.

Images from the Louis Shengtao Chen fall-winter 2023/24 collection

Images from the Louis Shengtao Chen fall-winter 2023/24 collection

With Shanghai Fashion Week for the autumn-winter 2023/24 collections officially ending a couple of weeks ago, our work as fashion enthusiasts and professionals of the future has only just begun. In a country known for fostering talent, we have seen tons of great creatives, and now we have the task of sharing with you, direct from Shanghai, our top list of the best upcoming Chinese brands – showing up here and around the world – that deserve to be on your watch list. Last but not least, we also included a Japanese-born brand that has broken into the global sneaker market with visually creative designs and acclaimed collaborations. What about their philosophy? “Through shoes, we will bring about a new way of communicating with the Earth,” they say. “We will make people more aware of the time-gravity link and make them dream of being connected to higher dimensions.” Are you eager to learn more? We've got you covered.

 

Third culture kid Louis Shengtao Chen made a big splash with his dream-like, romantic silhouettes informed by reality 

For his latest collection, Beijing-born, Chongqing-based designer Louis Shengtao Chen, a graduate of Central Saint Martins, was inspired by photographer Jim Goldberg’s Raised by Wolves, a multimedia work on California street kids which occupies the liminal space between documentary and narrative fiction.

Looks from the Louis Shengtao Chen fall-winter 2023/24 collection

Looks from the Louis Shengtao Chen fall-winter 2023/24 collection

Louis Shengtao Chen created a realistic utopia with his work for fall 2023: although we can escape reality briefly and return to childhood, dreams always wake up, and we still need to play our role. He mixed the brand’s usual romantic style with various emotions to bring the garments to life and put us in a drama about wandering. 

Using contrasting qualities between materials, Louis Shengtao Chen combined stiff denim with soft tassels to express the rebellious mood of adolescence. The mix of classic patterns and tulle created a hazy beauty in utopia. The choice of contrasting colours, such as beige, grey-blue and black, reflected the line between the real world and fantasy, absurd and fleeting but also wild enough.

Looks from the Louis Shengtao Chen fall-winter 2023/24 collection

Looks from the Louis Shengtao Chen fall-winter 2023/24 collection

It was not just a show; Louis Shengtao Chen desires to constantly break the rules, challenge them, and hope that people can grow freely. As the “Third culture kid” (a child who grows up in a culture different from the one in which their parents grew up) pointed out, his work is full of confidence, courage, and multiculturalism. Under the influence of his multiple backgrounds, he transforms the different feelings each place brings to him, translates them into his clothing language, and integrates them into the brand’s design philosophy.

 

The Rui autumn-winter 2023/24 “Towards the endless flow” collection presented at Paris Fashion Week revolved around the theme of a “return to mother” 

Returning to ourselves is like returning to our mother, wrapped in softness and warmth, calming down to explore the source of everything. This feeling has permeated the Rui fall-winter 2023/24 collection.

Look from the Rui fall-winter 2023/24 “Towards the endless flow” collection

Look from the Rui fall-winter 2023/24 “Towards the endless flow” collection

Each season of Rui is a continuation of the unique style of founder Rui Zhou, a Chinese designer who won the Karl Lagerfeld Special Jury Prize at the LVMH Awards in 2021. However, the theme and materials used this season were different. Presenting ‘Towards the endless flow’, Rui added a padded silhouette to her classic tights, generously displaying the curves of the female body and a new three-dimensional silhouette.

The opening look combined pink and beige, a fishnet dress and a plush coat. Next, the contrast between the black of the dress and the skin’s colour emphasised the model’s curves with shapes. In addition to shapes, Zhou experimented with wool, mohair and cashmere, further emphasising the inclusiveness and warmth of her work.

 

Grounds’ signature Jewellery soles: when classic sneakers get a modern makeover, and the futuristic result makes you walk on bubble-like air cushions 

In the past few years, younger Asian consumers sought to define their identity through various luxury brands and popular models. As a result, society was divided into segments by brands and prices. But as the fashion market continues to evolve, Asian Generation Z no longer considers a product’s brand name to be so essential. Instead, they pay attention to the design concept and final presentation of the product as well as its ability to keep up with the times.

Sneakers are among the core products of the Gen-Z market. As a result, leading luxury brands have developed iconic solutions for trainers, such as Balenciaga’s Track series or Gucci’s Screener series.

The extra cushioned sneakers by Japanese brand Grounds are quickly gaining a cult following in Asia

The extra cushioned sneakers by Japanese brand Grounds are quickly gaining a cult following in Asia

In September 2018, GROUNDS’ first collection was presented at Paris Fashion Week; the Japanese-born brand aimed to create softer, more flexible sneakers. For this reason, it did not use the traditional 3D-printing technique but tried to design air-cushion shoes following the line drawn by Nike and Adidas.

Founded in Japan, the Tokyo-based Grounds is making its way into the sneaker empire with creative designs and acclaimed collaborations

Founded in Japan, the Tokyo-based Grounds is making its way into the sneaker empire with creative designs and acclaimed collaborations

GROUNDS’ classic Jewelry series is characterised by the presence of spheres on the sole, making them look like a piece of jewellery. The translucent material and the different colour options are particularly eye-catching. Interestingly, these spheres are whole when static, but when the wearer uses the shoes, they change shape significantly, improving comfort and fit. In recent seasons, GROUNDS’ Jewelry also released a joint shoe with the Chinese design brand YUEQI QI, with the upper made of denim.

 

 

Bai Xinping
UG Fashion Styling student, Shanghai 
School
SHANGHAI
Course
Programme
undergraduate-Undergraduate Progression