Healing Luxury

type - trends
Trends
category - china
sector - fashion
sector - health & wellness
sector - luxury
From fashion to jewellery, Chinese designers are drawing on national pride and traditional approaches to wellbeing to recast luxury’s value proposition

Reflections on health

For the past 30 years, the Chinese luxury market has been dominated by a set of familiar international brands – with local consumers embracing a segment characterised by built-in Western codes of quality and craftsmanship. Recently, however, a growing number of independent Chinese designers have been reframing the category within a more familiar context, specifically drawing on traditional Chinese practices and systems.

In light of the pandemic, this is accelerating, as luxury brands borrow from ancient Chinese approaches to living and wellbeing to imbue their products with greater meaning. ‘We are seeing a growing impulse for creatives to look inwardly, to study the deep traditions of their culture and childhoods, and construct narratives that had either gone untold or fill in the gaps of an accelerated economic and social transformation,’ says Tim Lim, group fashion director at Chinese publishing house Modern Media.

At the same time, a desire for balance and holistic wellbeing has always been an integral part of Chinese lifestyles, says Lin Lin, co-chair and CEO of China International Beauty Expo. Now it's filtering into wider luxury goods. ‘The ability to translate traditional thematic into contemporary design with subtlety and sophistication through any medium, whether it be beauty or fashion, takes design confidence,’ says Lin. ‘And design confidence needs two things; the right tools and the right time – both of which I believe our contemporary Chinese designers of today are now profiting from.’

Published by:

11 May 2021

Author: Sima Bibi

Image: Ms MIN, China

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Ms MIN, China

Seasonal wellbeing

As a sense of culture and heritage begins to pervade wider luxury goods, companies such as Ms MIN, one of China’s most respected independent luxury design houses, are rejecting Western fashion calendars entirely.

Min Liu, the womenswear designer and creative director behind Ms MIN, hails from the mountainous and coastal Fujian province. Drawing on Chinese culture inspired her decision in December 2020 to dismiss prevailing Western fashion seasons, where collections are organised neatly into spring/summer and autumn/winter, to instead create collections in line with the 24 Chinese Solar Terms.

Liu translates eight terms that indicate a season’s transition into eight capsule wardrobes for her Chinese clients. ‘What the fashion system had done is to take this natural pattern of seasons and turn it into a business cycle or a model, where our concept of time is now defined by the meaning attached to it by others,’ she explains. In response, Liu is elevating the Chinese context of time through her garments, while paying attention to the weights of fabrics chosen in response to the necessity of the solar term. Further, Liu draws on traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practices when it comes to garment colour choices. Green silk satin dresses are introduced in high summer for the colour’s cooling effect on the body, while fiery reds are presented in winter collections for their heating benefits.

Rewilding luxury

While Liu’s applications are more subtle, menswear designer Xander Zhou chooses more overt displays of what he calls his ‘wanderings on the boundary between science and Eastern philosophy’.

His latest spring/summer 2021 collection, conceived during the height of the pandemic, features needle-bejewelled knitwear and bomber jackets with patterned formations that reference the acupuncture points from TCM – a symbolic nod to the human body system and the Taoist understanding of its connection to the earth, heavens and nature.

‘There is natural law that indicates the best time to change into which kind of clothing. It’s a combination of ancient wisdom and modern science’
Min Liu, womenswear designer and creative director, Ms MIN
 
 

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