Whoever visits the Chinese fashion metropolis Shanghai and the fashion fair Chic Shanghai (12 to 14 March ) there, gets very different impressions: In the high-gloss shopping malls of the city one western brand follows another, from Gap to Denham, from The Kooples to Damir Doma. The luxury brands have been there for a long time anyway. With a few exceptions, however, the 1,365 national fashion brands that presented themselves at Chic Shanghai are not found in the malls. The reason: The Chinese clothing industry is just at the beginning to develop own brands for the domestic market.

Chinese producers rely on their own brands to compensate for rising production costs with higher margins.
Photo: SI Team
Chinese producers rely on their own brands to compensate for rising production costs with higher margins.

In the future, China will have to serve the huge domestic market with its own brands. "China is the largest market in the world and its growth potential is immense," says Dapeng Chen, Vice President of the China National Garment Association, organizer of the trade fair. "The demand for fashion in China is huge, the target groups are developing and the market is still far from saturated.” Above all, the second generation of Chinese factory owners is now increasingly beginning to develop their own brands for the domestic market in addition to the traditional contract manufacturing for international brands. Consumers, especially the younger generation, also want to buy Chinese fashion that better understands their needs. Chen believes it is unlikely that these companies will soon offer their products to international markets. Chen: "We still have enough to do here in China.”

Denim Brand Mqber has also been producing denim collections for international brands for 16 years and now wants to become a brand itself.
Photo: SI Team
Denim Brand Mqber has also been producing denim collections for international brands for 16 years and now wants to become a brand itself.

Many exhibitors presenting at Chic are still on the verge to become brands themselves. For example, Brand Gusking, which was founded in 2008 and specializes in fashionable, high-quality men's jackets. "We are well-known in wholesale, but the consumer does not yet know the brand," explains the Sales Manager. He sells the collection mainly to Russian and Chinese retailers, a jacket retails between 800 and 1500 RMB (105 to 200 euros). Denim Brand Mqber has also been producing denim collections for international brands for 16 years and now wants to become a brand itself. The collection is based on the "Korean Style" with lightly washed denim and looks that show a lot of skin. Korean and Japanese fashion is known to still work as a role model for many Chinese brands.

Numerous companies presented their customization solutions with body scanners or smartphone apps.
Photo: SI Team
Numerous companies presented their customization solutions with body scanners or smartphone apps.

Chinese producers rely on their own brands to compensate for rising production costs with higher margins. "There are only two ways to survive," says Simon Lam of supply chain specialist FCCN. "Either you leave China or you invest in more efficient production and your own brands.” He has built up his business as a financial services provider for medium-sized textile companies and knows the problems of the industry. He presented a new B2B app at the trade fair that will enable clothing manufacturers, fabric manufacturers, retailers, etc. to network with one another.  

Technology is the key to future success, says Dapeng Chen from Chic Shanghai.
Photo: SI Team
Technology is the key to future success, says Dapeng Chen from Chic Shanghai.

Technology is the key to future success, says Dapeng Chen from Chic Shanghai. There is great faith in it, even if this technology is not yet available. The Chinese apparel industry is investing a lot of money-with support by the Chinese government-in new, IT-supported production methods with IoT and AI, in fashion on demand models and more customization. Numerous companies also presented their customization solutions with body scanners or smartphone apps at the trade fair. How China wants to support the fashion business of the future shows the booth of the E-Fashion Town. With the E-Fashion Town in "Silicon Valley" in Hangzhou, a huge area is currently being created that will serve as an accelerator for new digital fashion brands-and it’s no incident that it is located closely to China’s E-commerce giant Alibaba. The first brands have already established themselves there, such as Eifini, which already operates 1,600 stores in China and made the fourth largest turnover on Singles Day on Alibaba. Within seven days, the brand launches new styles and trends are constantly monitored. The E-Fashion Town should be ready by 2020.