The nine-day fashion carnival in Shanghai finally concluded with surprises and applause. Following strict pandemic-control measures, the Spring 2023 season of Shanghai Fashion Week successfully hosted 84 physical shows and 12 trade shows from September 22 to 30. In addition to the long-waited offline presentations, SHFW continued its partnership with Douyin to elevate its digital initiatives, inviting brands and designers to post vlogs and photos to engage online audiences.
Established labels such as Comme Moi, 8on8, Xu Zhi, and Shushu/tong secured local fashionistas’ attention as always while new names like M Essential Noir, Ao Yes, MTG, and Yehua Fan made their runway debut. Meanwhile, Labelhood, a Shanghai-based platform supporting Chinese emerging fashion talents, launched its pioneering fashion and arts festival with the theme of “Oriental Youth.”
The strategic collaboration between SHFW and Douyin contributed to massive online impressions and engagements, driven by official show videos and user-generated content. On the short-video platform, the hashtag #ShanghaiFashionWeek racked up 1.27 billion views as of September 30.
With a commitment to connecting emerging fashion designers and local audiences, Labelhood initiated a bonus program to offer its social media followers opportunities to earn complimentary show tickets. This scheme not only drove organic online and offline traffic for the fashion week activations, but also broke the traditional fashion week model exclusive to media, celebrities, and brands’ VIP customers.
The Spring 2023 Shanghai Fashion Week came earlier than expected. In light of uncertainties around COVID-19 in China, consumers have a stronger longing for connections and newness, whether physical or virtual. Making this season of SHFW happen showcased the determination of designers and showrooms alike to accelerate the recovery of the local fashion industry, which had been lagging behind due to lockdowns earlier this year.
From the business side, buyers are more cautious about making orders at trade shows, says Daisy Wu, PR of lingerie brand Her Senses, which participated in Ontimeshow. “Many local multi-brand stores still have overstock from last season due to lockdowns. If their cash flow is vulnerable, it will be difficult to make new bids this season,” Wu explains.
Still, the surging demand for local designs proves that there are untapped opportunities for homegrown labels. This year, brands including Shushu/tong and Calvin Luo opened standalone physical stores, marking a milestone for these independent designers. And more new-generation talents like Louis Shengtao Chen are expected to emerge from their early stages. How to navigate the macro market environment while maintaining their creativity and vision will be a critical challenge for all players.
Additional reporting by Janice Li and Naomi Wu