Fashion's Wu brings understated style to New York

Updated: 2012-09-21 11:12

By Liu Yuhan in New York (China Daily)

  Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

 Fashion's Wu brings understated style to New York

Wu Qingqing, chief designer and CEO of China's VLOV, first showed in New York in 2011. Provided to China Daily

The late-summer edition of New York Fashion Week swept through the city with about 100 top designers, including Wu Qingqing, who showed his 2013 spring/summer men's collection for VLOV, a major label in his native China.

On his and VLOV's second consecutive appearance at the New York event, one of four major fashion weeks along with London, Milan and Paris, the designer seemed as unassuming as he was in September 2011.

"Last year was truly a breakthrough for my career as my show received quite good reviews from the Western audience, including some industry insiders and buyers. But more importantly, it left me with a lesson to learn," said Wu, chief designer and CEO for VLOV, the first Chinese mainland apparel company represented at the event.

"Due to a lack of experience, I lost the opportunity to secure orders from Western buyers because I wasn't expecting that they were actually ready to purchase immediately after the show. Unfortunately I only brought one sample for each suit," he said.

"This year, to secure orders, I brought two suits for all samples, and they are all ready-to-wear."

Also, the models for his 2011 show weren't as attractive as he had hoped, Wu said. This year, he and his team have concentrated on finding the right look, resulting in the hiring of some of the industry's most-recognized male models, including Sean O'Pry, Clement Chabernaud and Simone Nobili.

In contrast to the edgy collection Wu brought to New York last year, featuring electric blues and feminine touches, his 2013 wares convey a theme that can be interpreted as "dawn", with hints of khaki, black and navy. Wu said he hopes his designs express an Eastern sensibility that may arouse one's love of nature.

Despite a bevy of options during Fashion Week, audiences came to Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts for Wu's show in search of that vibe.

 Fashion's Wu brings understated style to New York

A model walks the runway at a VLOV show during New York Fashion Week, which concluded recently. Yu Wei / China Daily

"I'm really excited to be here to see a new designer. He has a range where you can see regular people wearing this, but you can find it very stylish for special occasions, too," said Ludovica Villar-Hauser, a theatrical director whose plays have been staged off-Broadway in New York and in London.

"I found his 2013 spring/summer collection relatively traditional but very accessible to Western eyes. It's a smart collection," said John Quilty, a photographer from New York. "Though here we are in a Western world, the market seems to be opening more to China. I think New York is about new opportunities for new Chinese designers like Wu Qingqing."

Born in China's Fujian province, Wu is part of a recent wave of Asian designers that also includes Alexander Wang, Jason Wu, Vivienne Tam, Derek Lam and Phillip Lim. Breaking into the Western fashion industry isn't easy, but it can be particularly difficult for foreign designers.

Wu described his experience by using a traditional Chinese saying: One minute's brilliant performance onstage is attributed to 10 years' practice offstage.

"It took me and my team about six months to prepare for the 30-minute show - very intensive," he said.

While Wu bears most of the cost of his show himself, a recommendation from the China Fashion Designers Association "definitely helped smooth the way" to Manhattan, said Jing Tian, president of Galaxy International, Wu's strategic partner at New York Fashion Week.

Though he owns about 300 VLOV stores across China, Wu remains a new face to many Westerners. But Wu believes the energy emanating from New York makes it an ideal showcase for his clothes.

"I will continue to come to New York despite all difficulties, because if VLOV can convince New York, it can convince London, Paris and Milan. And I hope the reputation built here can benefit VLOV in the Chinese market."

Wu had told China Daily earlier that while Chinese are relatively late entrants to the industry, he believes his compatriots in fashion will succeed in the West - faith that gets stronger with China's economic power, he said.

"Since I made my debut here last year, I've seen VLOV's potential to tap into the US market. Some retailers from the US have shown interest in working with VLOV, which is quite inspiring.

"But I hope more shopping malls will become willing to represent the brand in the very near future as it gains more recognition from the West."