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.
The February 2019 show is the follow-up to the previous two editions of NYFW: Tmall China Day in 2018, and this time around starred the organizational skills of Suntchi (迅驰时尚 in Chinese), a full service management company based in China focusing on the fashion and entertainment industries, in association with the CFDA and Alibaba’s Tmall.
The CFDA and Suntchi recently established a five-year-planned strategic partnership to create the first gateway connecting China’s premier business network and marketing giant’s branding platform with U.S.-based fashion brands and designers.
Temper Magazine’s Jessica Laiter was in attendance and reported the following message of youth and peace on her personal blog Chinese Graffiti.
Fly Like A Peacebird — FW19
One of the brands that presented this season was the PEACEBIRD Mens Collection. The evolution of Chinese society is based on the behavior of China’s younger generations, a crucial spoke in the wheel of cultural change. This is why the collection was themed “Youth Made China”. PEACEBIRD Men FW19 showed off the boundless creativity of China’s Youth Culture pur sang and the inclusiveness of their culture through the combination of Sesame Street figures within a contemporary Chinese cultural context. Trouble Andrew and Reilly are two international artists who contributed to the collection.
“The goal is to bring together both of our cultures through the collections and embody what it means to be a part of China’s Youth Culture. It’s about creating something that young people everywhere can relate to. It’s about communication.”
PEACEBIRD Creative Director Xu Yong and General Manager Wang Mingfeng
As such, the show incorporates traditional Chinese characters of youth and interprets them through creative visual perception and design. On each seat at the show was seated a Cookie Monster doll along with other Sesame Street themed goodies; always adorable.
From a sophistication and globalization perspective, though, the question lingers… Is it a smart move to incorporate a cute, youthful theme into a collection also aiming to gain attention from a western audience? Consumers in China are very different from those across the U.S. and Europe. Chinese brands are well known for their cute themes, which do not always resonate on a deeper level with western consumers.
If the brand was/is intending to expose Chinese design to a new audience, one might wonder if Sesame Street was the right street to walk down, even if most of the western world did grow up with some version of it.
Transferable And Oversized Branding
Aside from Sesame Street, the PEACEBIRD Mens collection itself featured several other elements that did resonate well across the line. The designs had edge and interest to them, with small hints of cartoon imagery — on the footwear more specifically. The runway was filled with layers of plaid, camouflage and graphics, tied together with chained detailing.
“Be more open-minded. When designers bring their products to the U.S., they just tend to give consumers what they want in that particular market. We want designers to stay true to what they like to create.”
PEACEBIRD General Manager Wang Mingfeng
Oversized jackets, hoodies, and joggers, came in heavily layered as to create a very comfortable and wearable look. Although the themes were cute, the imagery and energy in the room was anything but that.
Seeing styles on the runway that are immediately transferable to everyday streetwear can be very refreshing.
This FW19 China Day proved a major step up from last year’s TMall show with sports| athleisure brand Li Ning taking to the stage when Temper Magazine’s Elsbeth van Paridon wrote:
What yours truly found hard to explain, aside from the cringeworthy “Shanghai Triad” opening soundtrack to one brand’s runway show (please do turn the beat around next time!), was the oohing and aahing taking place in a 360 degree circle surrounding my little seated spot. The invitation list was a rather unsurprising one with people from both the Big Apple’s Chinese communities and well as the much- and most-followed “influencers” filling the room with that duly-noted sense of self-justified self-importance. It’s a famine of substance, peeps; a famine of substance! And this coming from a self-professed narcissist.
It’s definitely China Day rising. Given Laiter focused on the PEACEBIRD show, we do want to leave you with a written glimpse of NPC streetwear punch. Use your imagination.
Blinged-out stainless steel doors. Thudding hip-hop music. Astroturf walls and carpeting. Tacky, but somehow 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 – the employees are quick to drop the names of the celebrity owners Wilber Pan (perhaps better known for his song “不得不爱”|bùdébuài ) and Channel [V] VJ Cheng Li. Now you know.
Originally written by Jessica Laiter for her personal blog Chinese Graffiti
Edited by Elsbeth van Paridon
Featured Image: Courtesy of 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.