This year, the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund is hosting a special China Exchange program with financial support from apparel tycoon Silas Chou. Under the program's auspices, New York-based designers Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler will head to Shanghai this fall, and China’s “It” designer of the moment, Uma Wang, has just arrived in New York City to meet with buyers, magazine editors, and art influencers over the next several weeks.
Last night, the W Downtown played host to a welcome bash for Wang, with everyone from J.Crew Executive Creative Director Jenna Lyons to designers Michael Bastian and Peter Som stopping by to give their well wishes to the Chinese designer.
Wang told us, “Fourteen days is just not enough. Every single day is really exciting. There are just so many different people to meet and things to see. I just want to meet everyone I can.”
Wang is one of the most buzzed-about young stars to come out of the burgeoning fashion scene in China of late. After graduating from the China Textile University and Central Saint Martins, she launched her namesake label in London in 2005 and has presented her collection in Shanghai, Paris and Milan. She is particularly well known for her knitwear -- she has a flagship store in Shanghai and is sold in boutiques in London, Milan and Florence -- though she has yet to establish a major presence in the American market.
As for what it is like to be a China-based designer at the moment, Wang said, "There is a really good energy right now. I think for a long time when people saw that things were 'Made in China,' they didn’t get excited about them. Now, the creativity is coming out. It’s a new generation. There are great designers [in China]. The world should pay attention to China -- especially the young designers."
If anything, this China Exchange program illustrates just how important the booming Chinese market is to the luxury fashion sector. Everyone from Alexander Wang to Michael Kors is clamoring to establish a strong presence in the region, and for many young talents in the U.S., finding success there is the key to real growth. Wang said, “I think, of course, the future market is China. The people have new money, they dress up, they are thinking of a new lifestyle. For American designers, it’s a really, really good time to go. For so long, it was all about European designers, the big labels. Now people really want to see to see what American designers are doing. They want to see the new brands. It’s the right time to go.”