As China continues to be a main player in the manufacturing and consuming realm of fashion, it seems like it is only a matter of time before it plays a pivotal role in fashion sustainability. Shanghai Fashion Week is still finding its relevance within the fashion world, and is finding a niche within the sustainable fashion conversation.
Shanghai Fashion Week hosts not only fashion shows, but also focuses on a trade show model where panels, workshops and presentations occur. Kering was one of these presentations, as the group discussed their K Generation Award. This award promises mentorships, access to Kering’s networks and a 100,00 euro grant to environmental innovation start-ups and change-makers of the fashion industry. Kering talked about how focusing on empowering the new generation and their innovations will bring change to the world. Kering hopes to spark interest amongst the Chinese market to invest in social and environmental innovation.
Since China is a major force in manufacturing, improving supply chain sustainability was a main topic during conferences at Shanghai Fashion Week. Start-ups within China were highlighted for textile supply chain innovation. These start-ups introduce technology that makes natural dyes from organic waste (Melephant) to AI (FeiLiu Technology) to water treatment for dyes and prints (Heyuan). Giving prominent attention to these Chinese tech start-ups promises a continuation of China’s promise to become a true part of the sustainability conversation.
This dogma also permeates through the designers that show at Shanghai Fashion Week. Designer Zhang Na (reported as an ecological hero of China in 2013) designed her Spring collection for her brand Reclothing Bank with fully up-cycled material and eco-friendly textiles. These materials included recycled PVC, cotton, fibres made of wood pulp and linen. Designers like Na understand the impact that fashion has on the earth. This impact can be positive if enough care is given into the mass production that is fashion.
Known as the Paris of the East, and home to Asia’s largest trade show, Shanghai Fashion Week is climbing in the global fashion ranks. This new notoriety is pushing the country towards promising innovations and triggering a new wave of start-up mentalities amongst younger generations. As the attitudes of Chinese consumers migrate towards eco-friendly practices, as does those of manufacturers and the government. China has immense potential to be a leader in fashion sustainability that extends from factories to luxury clothing lines.