The Fashion Hub of Xiamen

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Seven years in Beijing was long enough for designer Vega Zaishi Wang, one of the China’s young, but extremely talented fashion designers. Beijing, China was creating a rough state for Ms. Wang as she struggled with depression for several years. The lifestyle was too much to cope with and she thought about moving elsewhere.

Last September, she made a decision and relocated to a small island called Xiamen. Xiamen is in between Hong Kong and Shanghai but with warmer climates. Wang’s studio was four stories high and close to the beach, making the gentle ocean breeze feel fresher than the smog that Beijing is dealing with now. Ms. Wang finally felt like she was in another world where she could start again.

In an interview with Asia Pacific, Wang talked about how there was no time between work and relaxation. It was a fast-paced environment with little room for yourself. Xiamen offers Vega a fast-paced yet easing lifestyle and this allows her to focus on the fashion collections without feeling stressed. Within the island, the fashion community is limited but is slowly filling up with up-and-coming designers. Handfuls of individuals have left the hustle and bustle of cities and have opted for a calmer piece of mind.

The designers are known as the “Xiamen gang” and cities like Hong Kong and Beijing have taken an interest in their work. On the catwalks of London and Paris, their creations have been flaunted and unintentionally knocked-off by the e-commerce brand Alibaba’s Taobao.

Designers who go by the name of Liu Min who founded Ms. Min clothing and Shangguan Zhe who started Sankuanz plus Vega Zaishi Wang are some of the designers who have starred in the Opening Ceremony “Year of China”, which showcased and highlighted their emerging talent.

All three of them are presenting the latest trends to China. It is a surprise to China’s population who would not have thought Xiamen were harbouring fashion designers in a place that is not well-known, until now. The founder of the brand Deepmoss, Dido Liu has said that Xiamen does not have fashion as he is one of a few that have launched a label there.

Xiamen is a hotter place than most and the fashion that is seen are flip-flops and tee-shirts and that does not necessarily scream fashion. Xiamen is comfortable with the word “chill”, as are the visitors that walk along the seaport where European traders used to come to for Chinese tea and porcelain.

Bashi is one of the adventurous areas of Xiamen where fisherman drop off fresh seafood or Shapowei where the space is open to art. The place comes alive at night where people are seen selling jewelry and crafts and kids are skateboarding around them. The fashion gang often meet up at a place called Thank You Cafe, which is established by another designer Cotton Yu.

The language, atmosphere and culture resemble Taiwan with residents speaking Hokkien, a dialect native to the region of Fuji.

Xiamen is accepted as a laid-back and livable city, credited by ranks of the top ten places to live in. What lacks in fashion is made up by the luxurious greenery and culinary scene, even if that means finding a hole in the wall restaurant. Most of the designers who have opened a business were raised in the region where the operating costs and lower and so is the rent.

The government helps with rent subsidies since they are eager to promote fashion. This can sometimes come with challenges because the government wants local fashion show participation from the brands and they do not have a clear idea about expanding in manufacturing.

Doubts are quickly replaced by the calmness of Xiamen. Communication, as well as transport, is great, too, especially when it comes to exporting fashion collections to Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Fashion blogger Timothy Parent has said that China could be moving from labels such as “Made in China” to “Designed in China” since the fashion industry is moving at a swift pace. People want to design more than they want to produce.

Chinese designers are becoming more cultured and international, bringing from their travels a mix of language and design.

"I am a ship and I promise I will make it to the shores alive".Hello! My name is Serena Anthony, currently residing here in Chicago, IL, recently come from a five year stay in Malaysia. I am a Fashion Business major at Columbia College with a passion for incorporating writing and fashion together, which is awesome given that those are two of my favourite things. Especially after great sushi and a killer moshe cristo.Columbia is giving me the benefit of creatively getting a handle on my goals. Because I love art, more so when I get into a frenzy, this college is a mix of serious and enjoyable experiences. I hope to keep my future like that as well!

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