Shenzhen Special: Dalang Fashion Valley aims for high-end markets

Updated: 2013-11-25 07:50

By Chen Hong in Shenzhen, Guangdong (China Daily USA)

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The community of Dalang, which literally means "big wave", has been in the spotlight since it began to cooperate with Elite World to stage a fashion modeling contest in Shenzhen.

Some 55 selected models from 53 countries and regions will attend the Elite Model Look World Final on Nov 27 in the southern city bordering Hong Kong, which has long been famous for its garment and apparel manufacturing industry.

The contest will become a significant landmark for the community of Dalang, which aims to become a world-renowned fashion center in a couple of years.

 Shenzhen Special: Dalang Fashion Valley aims for high-end markets

International candidates for the Elite Model Look World Final pose for a photo at an engraving painting creation industry center in the Longhua New District of Shenzhen, Guangdong province. Chen Hongbin / For China Daily

 Shenzhen Special: Dalang Fashion Valley aims for high-end markets

Stefania Valenti (left), CEO of Pacific Global Management, and Wang Lixin, director of Longhua New District Administration Committee, shake hands at a signing ceremony for strategic cooperation in promoting local fashion industry. Provided to China Daily

 Shenzhen Special: Dalang Fashion Valley aims for high-end markets

Artist's rendering of a planned clothing and fashion industry center in Dalang. Part of the Shenzhen city government's efforts, the Dalang Fashion Valley aims to promote building up local garment markers' proprietary brands. Provided to China Daily

"It's not just a contest to select the supermodels or to promote the city's image but a channel to invigorate our clothing industry and link the industry with the global fashion communities," said Wang Lixin, director of Longhua New District Administration Committee of Shenzhen, where Dalang is located.

Shenzhen will be the third Chinese mainland city for Elite Model Look World Final, following China's business center Shanghai and tropical tourism city Sanya of Hainan province.

Wang told China Daily that the executives of Elite were excited at the ideas to jointly develop the promising clothing industry in Dalang when they met in May.

"We soon reached an agreement to hold the 30th Elite Model Look World Final in Shenzhen," Wang recalled. "More importantly, we reached a common ground that our cooperation would be extended to co-develop the clothing and fashion industry of Dalang and raise it to the international level."

As a result, the world-leading modeling agent will register a company in Dalang Fashion Valley, which will not only focus on the modeling industry but connect local companies to global industrial leaders.

The industry park, which is known as Dalang Fashion Valley now, was designed by the Shenzhen city government almost a decade ago as a move to urge the local garment makers to develop their own brands and products different from the commonplace "original equipment manufacturer" mode.

The government attracted 22 homegrown garment companies of Shenzhen then, including Ellassay, Eitie, FES and OMNIALUO, with low-cost land and incentive policies to build headquarters and design centers in the park, with an area of about 1.4 square kilometers.

When the Longhua new district was set up at the end of 2011, separated from Bao'an district, the officials decided to revise the plan of the park and turn it into a fashion valley with a complete industrial cluster, including fashion brands, designers' studios, modeling agents, photographers' studios, luxury jewelry and watches. The number of companies drawn to the district soon surpassed 50.

"We made the decision to meet the real market demands," Wang noted.

Over years of development, local companies have established a reputation and begun to explore abroad.

For example, Ellassay is one of the two Shenzhen brands that were selected by the organizer of New York Fashion Week to show its 2014 spring collection in September, while the chief designer of OMNIALUO Luo Zheng brought the brand to New York Fashion Week as early as in 2008.

Although the fashion brands of Shenzhen are getting stronger, the district government found they need a common platform to get closer to the industrial leaders.

"The companies work on their own. The process could be tough, " said Wang. He tried to build a useful platform, like the cooperation with Elite, to broaden the international exchanges and communication for every company in the valley.

One of the ideas is to launch a fashion week in Shenzhen next year with the model agent, as a part of the city's fashion boosting scheme, Wang said.

"Elite can help us build an international fashion week given its intensive connection and media partnership. We will plan it after the model contest," he said.

While its own fashion week is taking shape, Wang said more Shenzhen brands originating from Dalang will be seen in the world major fashion weeks in near future, including those in New York, London, Paris and Milan.

The district director is also pondering the way to solve the talent shortage that frustrates the fast-growing industry.

He said that the government is in talk with Italy's top ranked college design institute to set up a school in Longhua new district.

"We hope it will become a college that could provide not only short-term diplomas but also degrees to the students, but it needs the approval from the State's education department and takes time," Wang said.

He said he noticed that many young foreign designers have shown an interest in working for Chinese garment companies.

"They were excited about China's fast-growing economy and big population. They were also excited about Chinese people's rising demand for fashion." Wang said. "I predict that more foreign designers will come to Dalang in the coming years, which will accelerate the globalization of the fashion valley."

Home to more than 3,000 garment companies, which generate $26.2 billion in combined production value and almost $10 billion in exports, Shenzhen contributes about 60 percent of China's manufactured clothing, according to government data.

(China Daily USA 11/25/2013 page16)