Sunday, January 29, 2006

Happy Chinese New Year!

China, and Asia in general, have become incredibly important to the fashion industry in recent years. China, India, and Japan are not only manufacturing centers; they are a huge market that is growing by leaps and bounds. In fact, it is the Japanese customers that have kept some of the big luxury brands afloat. Chanel, Burberry, Prada, and Louis Vuitton are popular labels, but lesser known brands are popular as well. In fact, the shopping in cities like Shanghai is some of the best in the world, whether you are looking for cheap chic or Balenciaga.

So where is this trend going? I anticipate even more interest in Asia from companies like LVMH, but I also think that smaller labels will be looking eastward. Consumers in Asian countries tend to be mainly young people with lots of disposable income (it is not abnormal to live with your parents until marriage, even for those who are out of school and working), so they are especially susceptible to trends and marketing.

New brands, trends, and styles from Asia will also be big in in the West. Think about it - many designers now are influenced by Japanese and Chinese street style, so it is only a matter of time before Asian brands move westward. It's already happening with premium denim, and designers like Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons, Issey Miyake, and Yohji Yamamoto have been major innovators in the fashion world. Asia has long been a source of new products and fresh ideas for most industries, and fashion is really no different.

Asian fashion magazines are even becoming more prominent. The Japanese street-style magazines, such as Fruits, are collector's items, and Vogue China consistently features the work of top photographers and models. India's in on the act, as well - Mumbai Fashion Week is growing rapidly.

Overall, both the big names and indie labels, are starting to cater to the powerful Asian markets - designers (including Chanel and Prada) are even starting to reprise their shows in Tokyo and Shanghai. So perhaps we should be looking east toward the future of fashion?

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