Standing on the runway, pre-show shenanigans ubiquitous, were NPC founders Cheng Li, China’s leading VJ/TV host, and Will Pan, American-born Taiwanese Mandopop singer, rapper and Bell Awards actor. Stoked to be at New York Fashion Week as a part of China Day, this actually was their very first independent fashion show.
China Day on February 13 launched under the heading “Youth Made China”. China’s hallmark contemporary fashion brand PEACEBIRD (太平鸟 in Chinese) and leading homegrown high-street trending retail outlet New Project Center (NPC) were selected to feature in the official runway line up.
NPC is a well-known multi-brand retailer in China born in 2009, best known for selling streetwear apparel. The brand receives much acclaim for helping Chinese youth actualize their dreams through creative ideas and products.
Temper Magazine’s Jessica Laiter was in China Day attendance and after her previous message of China Day youth power and peace, she now brings us the 411 on NPC via her personal blog Chinese Graffiti.
NPC: Blinged Out And Thudding In
Blinged-out stainless steel doors. Thudding hip-hop music. Astroturf walls and carpeting. Tacky, but it works. A modern, urban and athletic atmosphere that spills over into the clothing racks. NPC is a thriving streetwear brand with a huge first-tier China following. Oversized graphic tees, baggy jeans, varsity jackets and special edition sneakers. OTT.
Star power further bolsters the store brand — employees are quick to drop the names of celebrity employers Wilber Pan (perhaps better known for his song “不得不爱”|bùdébuài ) and Channel [V] VJ Cheng Li.
Aside from their streetwear shenanigans, NPC strives to advocate for traditional Chinese culture while also stocking brands from around the world, simultaneously providing a window for Chinese youth into global culture and trends.
NPC showcases the latest in fashion to local consumers, but also serves as a platform to promote Chinese brands abroad. A combination catapulting them onto the NYFW China Day catwalk.
For its 10th anniversary, in the true spirit of nostalgia, the NPC founders went with a collection to relate space exploration to youthful expression.
NPC Professes To New Era Youth
For their China Day collection, Pan and Li partnered with PHANTACi, ANB BRAND, UMAMIISM and MAD HATcher to bring their inspirations to life. NPC and this season’s designing collaborators, who have each in their own right become icons of China’s “New Era Youth”, presented collections with encouraging words to inspire youth to 加油 (jiāyóu| to power through), even in the face of hardship and struggle. Hence the text sprawled across many of the pieces: NOTHING GREAT COMES EASY.
“10 years is a long time for a brand to be developing. It’s great to finally take it to another level. The recognition in itself is a great accomplishment for us.”
Cheng Li and Will Pan
The designers stated during the presentation that the biggest difficulty is being in a foreign country as a new brand. Once you understand a culture, you are able to develop a deeper attachment to the brand. Rather than just liking the look of something.
Take, for example, Instagram. A platform incorporating millions, yet showcasing the same, similar look 1,000 likes at a time. People like the same things and the same trends, a phenomenon sprouting from common interests.
The world is getting smaller and people are thus getting closer. This is precisely why the concept of the NPC brand is so important; it brings everything and everyone together.
New York Fashion Week China Day seeks to maximize the impact of Chinese fashion on the world and, in spite of the recent U.S.| China trade war, intends to bridge the East West gap in a cultural, non-political way. One like at a time.
Many established designers recently left NYFW and many Chinese designers have swooped in to take their spots. The opportunities offered to emerging designers via NYFW are invaluable; it is, after all, still a perfect platform for exposure.
Dare we say… One man’s trash is another man’s fortune?
Originally written by Jessica Laiter for her personal blog Chinese Graffiti
Edited by Elsbeth van Paridon
Featured Image: Courtesy of NPC for NYFW China Day, 2019. All rights reserved
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Laiter went on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Chinese Studies and Communications Rhetoric at The University of Pittsburgh and a Master's Degree in Translation at NYU. Immediately after college, she moved to New York City and since then has worked in a number of different industries such as branding, manufacturing, fashion, public relations and real estate. China always acting as the common denominator.
Inspired by her career, Laiter launched a website called Chinese Graffiti, on which she features emerging Chinese designers, talks about the intersection of tradition and modernity in China, as well as the evolution of society and business culture. As time went on, she sought out like-minded businesses individuals who were interested in a similar market, which is how she became involved with Temper Magazine.
The China market is creating a whirlwind around the glob and it’s only just getting started.
The world can be a small place with a dash of mutual understanding and Laiter loves to be the storyteller who helps to bridge that gap.
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