Chinese haute-couture steps up at HK Fashion Week

Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:16am EST
 
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Hong Kong (Reuters) - China at one time may have been better known for fashion knockoffs than catwalk creations, but Chinese haute-couture is now finding its feet on the international stage -- even as it grows ever more popular with customers at home.

Chinese designers have been front and centre at Hong Kong Fashion Week for Fall/Winter 2012, which ends on Thursday, taking advantage of the nearly 2,000 exhibitors from 26 countries and regions to make their mark.

"China's been the clothing factory of the world for some time," said Chinese designer Qi Gang, whose creations featured bright colors, sequins, fur and feathers.

"But as our economy develops, we are also becoming a country of famous brands, big brands. This trend is unstoppable," he told Reuters TV.

Qi, who describes his styles as "sexy and extravagant," is profiting from the growing affluence of his vast nation, whose economic growth has been hit by a sluggish global economy but still posted annual growth of 8.9 percent in the fourth quarter.

His SCfashion label saw turnover of $47 million last year, and his chain of stores across the mainland rose to 40 from 25.

Qi joins a growing host of Chinese designers including Uma Wang, Qiu Hao and Ma Ke, whose "exception" label is known as the closest thing China has to its own luxury brand.

"Chinese designers are definitely marking their territory," said Craig Lawrence, a U.K.-based knitwear designer, who said that China is likely to benefit from moves by Western fashion capitals, such as Paris, to become more global.

"They're putting their stamp down on the international platform because (this) Fashion Extravaganza is such a mix of international people and there's so much press from around the world it helps create a buzz."   Continued...

 
<p>A model presents a creation from the brand Mondovi by designer Do Do Leung of Hong Kong as part of her Fall/Winter 2012 fashion show during Hong Kong Fashion Week January 16, 2012. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu</p>