Designed by Beijing native Zhang Na, the Fake Natoo label in 2008 launched itself into out-of-this-world fashionably healthy spheres, quickly landing on China’s most-wanted designer list. Jessica Laiter puts on her cloche hat and chases down this dragon for us.
“Our heritage is our everything. Old clothes hold the traces of people’s lives, of humanity,” Zhang Na.张娜说: “传承就是一切。旧衣服承载着生活和人性的印记.”
Fake Natoo gives us reason to believe that the hopes for a healthier China have finally been reckoned for. The Post-80s and -90s make every effort to alter the global gaze on China, helping to shift focus from a country blamed for its environmentally-disastrous actions, to its more progressive individuals whose fashions serve as a looking glass into China’s softer side. Beijing-born and -bred Zhang Na marches at the forefront of this movement. A run-through:
- Zhang studied Fashion Design at the Xi’an Academy of Fine Arts in the department of Fashion Design Education and later attended Mod’art International Paris;
- Her label was launched in 2008 under the original brand name “Na(too)”, which later on transformed into Fake Natoo;
- Say what? “Fake”: Well, there already was a brand labeled “Natoo” and that was the harsh reality of it. Hence Zhang simply took it to the next level of exaggeration/pun. “Na”? Her first name. “Too”? Meaning “possibility”;
- Zhang’s true passion is found in her striving to create a more permanent bond between people, clothing, and the environment.
- 在2008年发布了自己的品牌，品牌原来的名字叫Na(too)，后改为Fake Natoo。
Although still quite small in China, the niche of sustainability has turned into a trend. One that is fashion forward and rooted in rich heritage. 虽然在中国还是小范围的，可持续时尚已经形成一股走势：时尚的发展根植于传承。
As a descendent of Manchu nobility, Zhang harbors a strong sense of responsibility towards creating fashions that are based on her Chinese background. Going back in time a mere three years, we find a perfectly befitting example of this innate sense of heritage in Fake Natoo’s A/W 2014 opening. Hosted inside the Beijing 798 Art District, Zhang presented her collection featuring recurring themes from nomadic culture and lifestyle, playing on the notes of sincerity and authenticity of a life strongly tied to Mother Earth. Coming down the catwalk to the chants of Mongolian folk bands and grassland songs by a Xinjiang Regional band, Zhang had woven together a collective of chosen hues and featured fabrics — cashmere, alpaca, mohair and organic wool imported from Italy — that richly reflected the natural tones of Earth.
身为满清贵族的后裔，张娜对根植于中国文化背景的时尚创作有着强烈的责任感。回顾三年前，在Fake Natoo2014年的秋冬发布会上，我们看到了她对传统文化的完美传承。在北京798艺术空间，张娜发表了以游牧文化和生活方式为主题的服饰系列，这个系列体现了与地球母亲之间纯正真挚的紧密联系。以新疆蒙古族民间乐队的呼歌为背景音乐，采用大地色系和自然原料，诸如羊绒、羊驼呢、马海毛以及意大利绿色羊毛面料， 这个系列充分反映了自然的本色。
With a return to Mother Earth, comes the awareness of how we, as a global collective, have been treating Her. Chinese designers and consumers too are increasingly branching out from runway and fast fashion to the globe-sweeping phenomenon that is sustainable and organic fashion. Sustainability is rapidly turning into one of the better talked-about-topics across China’s industrious landscape. Albeit still quite small, this niche industry has somewhat turned into a trending topic — from online platforms such as Sina Weibo to the offline reality of, say, restored straight razors. It is a trend that is both fashion forward as well as rooted in rich heritage. And what better way to shed light on China’s growing environmentalist community than through fashion.
Those forming the backbone of the emerging eco-friendly brands clearly showcase China’s capability to become one of this niche’s strongest competitors.那些成为主干力量的新兴环保品牌清晰地显示出中国有能力成为这个产业中的强有力的竞争对手。
Zhang is also taking fashion risks outside of her own label. One independent project that first commanded the audience’s attention at a 2010 art exhibition in Australia, “Reclothing Bank” was and is Zhang’s response to China’s rapid development. “Reclothing” stands for the re-making and re-designing of secondhand clothes, whilst “Bank” signifies a platform for the circulation and exchange of old materials. I myself label this a “risk” since the Chinese consumer market has of now not yet attributed significant value to sustainable fashion; it remains a novice concept. Nevertheless, those who stand behind the emerging eco-friendly brands clearly showcase China’s capability to become one of this niche’s strongest competitors. Hope floats for fashion and thank God for floaty suits. Watch as Timothy Parent of China Fashion Bloggers finds out more at the Reclothing Bank Fashion Show 2017:
张娜在经营她的品牌之外也在大胆地做着一些其他的时尚尝试。其中一个叫做“再造衣银行（Reclothing Bank）”的独立项目，就是张娜对于中国发展过快的回应，这个项目在2010年的澳大利亚艺术展上首次展出。“再造衣（Reclothing）”是指利用二手衣物重新设计和制作，“银行（Bank）”是交换和循环利用旧衣物的平台。我之所以称这个项目为“大胆的尝试”，是因为可持续时尚在中国还没有引起消费者的足够重视，可持续时尚还是一个很新的概念。然而那些成为主干力量的新兴环保品牌已清晰地显示出中国有能力成为这个产业中的强有力的竞争对手。时尚放飞希望。China Fashion Bloggers的Timothy Parent带我们走进再造衣银行2017发布会现场：
This form of upcycling may be considered exotic in China, but it has definite traction within the global fashion market. Zhang works with discarded clothing and textile donations to create treasures out of unwanted materials. As the old saying goes: One woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure. Zhang takes unsellable pieces from thrift shops and creates a new line of ready-to-wear items, with her passion for exploring the connection between people, dress and the environment consistently shining through. Zhang befittingly sells her Reclothing Bank designs at Brandnü, an ethical trade network collaborating with China’s socio-conscious designers and artists and at the same time arguably Beijing’s chiquest charity shop located in the Wudaoying Hutong. Taking a passion for people to the highest level, the shop donates 10 per cent of all profits to the migrant women who work with the shop and its featured brands.
“We have a plethora of older articles in our lives, a lot of which we throw away; or that we keep hidden in the back of our closets. This is not what we should be doing in terms of environmental protection. I just feel that people sometimes look back at their old things and realize their sentimental value. You need to slow down and think about the past before thinking about the present or the future.” Zhang explains in her own words. Heritage is everything.
This Chinese Gen-X designer lives by the professional code that old clothes hold the traces of people’s lives, of humanity. In the hope that wearing redesigned old clothes can make people pause and contemplate their present and future, Zhang continuously powers through on her fashion travels, taking adversity in her stride with a healthy dose of humor. Low-key she may very well be, yet high hopes we hold for her brand and the philosophy it entails.
As far as that fashionable health is concerned… As they (well, B.C. Forbes) say: “In the race for success, speed is less important that stamina. So power on through and remain brand-new!
只要人们关注健康时尚… 就像他们（B.C. Forbes）所说的：“在取得成功的征程上耐力比速度更重要.” 所以让我们充满电来保持全新的状态吧！