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Fashion you can touch

By Xu Junqian | China Daily | Updated: 2013-04-22 11:08

Fashion you can touch

With 10 of its most popular womenswear brands, Taobao launches its first "offline fashion show" in conjunction with Shanghai Fashion Week. The brands feature collections designed by online designer teams. Photos by Gao Erqiang / China Daily

Stepping out from the computer screen, Taobao brings 10 popular designers to a live catwalk, Xu Junqian reports in Shanghai.

Fashion may not often capture mass attention in China, but one feature of the just-ended 2013 Autumn Winter Shanghai Fashion Week got plenty of notice. The pieces on display were not from big names such as Karl Lagerfeld, Raf Simons and Giorgio Armani, but the nameless, faceless young Chinese designers who have dressed the largest population of women in China in the past decade. Joined by 10 of the most popular womenswear brands that started from scratch on Taobao.com, the country's biggest online shopping bazaar launched its first "offline fashion show", running less than one hour, in conjunction with Shanghai Fashion Week.

Characterized by three themes - simple classic style, boyish style and sweet Japanese/South Korean style - the show has attracted an audience of about 600, Taobao says, mostly frequent, if not addictive, cyber-shoppers who were invited by the website.

Rather than reselling garments from wholesale markets, as most of the web stores on Taobao, the 10 brands joining the show all feature collections designed by their own designer teams and boast a minimum of tens of millions of yuan in annual sales.

"The sales number actually is not a requirement for a ticket to the show, but in the world of Taobao, you need to be that large to be able to afford a designer," says Shen Ting, marketing chief director of Taobao's womenswear department, and the co-organizer of the fashion show.

And for the first time, these most mysterious fashion designers stepped out of the cyber world.

"I never expected that my works would be walked on the runway," says Mai Wanli, the creative director of womenswear brand Amii, one of the featured lines.

A 32-year-old native of Foshan, Guangdong province, with a degree in fashion design, Mai had been working at a local "bricks-and-mortar" womenswear company for seven years, until two years ago when she decided that "the future of fashion lies in the Web world".

She now leads a team of about 20 young designers, who altogether produce at least 10 new pieces every week for Amii. The store features what Mai calls "off the rack, high quality, soft, body conscious clothes from fine fabrics like those from Chloe or Chanel". Mai says online fashion design is a much more demanding job than its offline counterpart, though the pay is similar.

Fashion you can touch

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