- Kristopher Fraser |
Alibaba’s Tmall has become a major platform for both local Chinese and international brands looking to capitalize on the Chinese market. Tmall’s influence on the fashion industry in China has been recognized by major industry players, including Tory Burch, who recently launched her collection there through Tmall. The platform’s influence is now expanding beyond the Chinese market as they brought five emerging designers to New York Fashion Week, including Peacebird, Threegun, Rizhuo, Songta, and i-am-chen to show this season as part of Tmall’s China Cool.
As the world’s largest online business-to-consumer marketplace, Alibaba’s platform connects brands that once would only have a wholesale model to rely on directly with consumers. The first show that took place, Peacebird, a multi-brand retail and fashion label, showcased a collection that celebrated Chinese youth culture and sports. As Chinese youth culture begins to permeate the American market and influence streetwear, Peacebird couldn’t have chosen a more opportune time to show in America.
Alibaba brings emerging designers to New York Fashion Week
Designer Chuang Qu of Threegun said he has known about Tmall for two years because all of his design assistants around him were using the platform, and that’s how he became familiar with the platform. “Tmall has been at the forefront of design and innovation and fashion, and I’m very happy to collaborate with Tmall,” Qu said to FashionUnited. “Even though me and the other designers aren’t working on the same things, we have the same goals in mind and we’re all wishing for success together, so I’m very happy to be working with the Tmall team.”
As Chinese fashion and Chinese streetwear continue to have growing influence on American fashion, Qu told FashionUnited, “This is a very natural thing. Even though American consumers may not know China very well, I have a lot of younger relatives who come to America all of the time and have seen American culture. Young people around the world are all the same in some ways.”
Streetwear, which was once a subculture, has become a major part of the mainstream, and does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon. As Tmall continues to support homegrown talent more brands, both streetwear and contemporary, are finding their way into the market. Designer Zhi Chen, of i-am-chen, best known for her colorful knitwear, was discovered by Tmall and ran with the opportunity to become part of the Tmall platform. “It’s very hard for emerging designers to find their customers because usually we only do wholesale, but we can’t reach our actual customers individually,” Chen said to FashionUnited. “Because Tmall has the biggest platform for fashion in China, so it’s great to have our product on there so customers can reach us easily.”
Chen recently launched her first few looks on Tmall and is expecting to draw in customers who “have a young soul.” Her colleague Song Ta, the designer of Songta, whom she did a joint show with at Spring Studios, just started his fashion line fourth months ago and was also discovered by Tmall and brought onto the platform. “My online store with Tmall is going to be bring me a lot more exposure,” Ta said to FashionUnited. “Showing in New York will definitely bring me more exposure because New York is such an international city and it will bring me exposure to international guests.”
The shows were concluded by contemporary label RiZhuo a collection that was inspired by poet Wang Wan’s By the Beigu Mountain and the melancholy sentiment of returning home. The brand’s use of black and white broke diverted from the classic with layered avant-garde style pieces as the collection proved there was a market for avant-garde contemporary apparel coming out of China.
In addition to the runway shows, Tmall is hosting a pop-up exhibition featuring cross-over collaborations centered around the theme “China Cool.” The pop-up shop will be open from September 4 to 6 at 315 Spring Street in Soho, a neighborhood known for high retail traffic in New York City.
As Alibaba has become one of the largest global retail companies, Tmall is a key component of that business in driving the fashion component of their business endeavors. In addition to the continued rollout of independent and emerging Chinese designers, Tmall has plans in the works to bring more luxury brands onto the platform, though they haven’t formally announced which ones yet.Photos: courtesy of Purple PR