The exhibition China: Through The Looking Glass helped in putting China in the global fashion map. Now more than ever, names like Guo Pei, CLOT or Sankuanz have become a common currency of sorts. But there are many other proposals that are joining this tsunami destined to change the international fashionista panorama.

China: Through The Looking Glass. That was the theme of one of the most iconic exhibitions from the MET’s fashion division and, therefore, also the theme of the MET Gala that always marks the beginning of the annual exhibition commissioned by Andrew Bolton along with the ever-so significant support of Anna Wintour. It should have also served as a definitive warning: there was an urgent need to place China in the international fashion map because the future will not be understood without the contribution of this increasingly powerful country inside the global economic status.

What’s curious to note about that exhibition is, most of all, that it was an excuse to show how Western designers have taken inspiration from Chinese fashion since the beginning of the last century. Much has been said about Galliano and McQueen’s own visions of Chinese imagery, when the unforgettable images of Guo Pei’s dress that turned Rihanna’s red carpet appearance into a walking meme, in which her maximalist cape was compared to a French omelette, should have been the ones to have actually had a profound and lasting effect.

Guo Pei

That was the first contact that many people had with Guo Pei’s fascinating universe, whose name has ascended season after season thanks to her view of fashion as a fantasy where everything goes, but always in gigantic dimensions, whether it be a dress that was embroidered by three hundred seamstresses or another one that weighs five hundred kilograms and that needed a gymnast instead of a model to be worn and walked down the runway. Before that, Guo Pei had already become the first female Chinese designer to enter the Haute Couture Chambre Syndicale, and that is exactly where a legend was born.

However, haute couture isn’t where Chinese fashion is making significant strides, it’s streetwear. Just a few weeks ago Nike announced a series of brilliant collaborations that would revisit its legendary Air Max, and between the list you can find one of the names of those who have been able to bridge Western and Eastern cultures in the last decade: CLOT, Edison Chen and Kevin Poon’s brand known for using collaborations as a way to infiltrate themselves in several cultural layers beyond fashion. After having had a season that flew under the radar, this is the moment that CLOT makes its return. And in the biggest way possible.

However, they’ll have to fight against a group of new names in Chinese streetwear which, without a doubt, have a clear leader: Sankuanz. Shangguan Zhe’s line is specialised in that type of postmodern fashion that uses traditional codes (in its case, Asian ones) to challenge what should and shouldn’t be considered as fashion. And, no matter how much Zhe states that his designs are impossible and unnecessary, there’s a whole legion of streetwear fans who have decided otherwise.

Are these the more signals to show that China is the country we’re going to be talking about the most in the next few years? Stay aware of the unisex vision of Fiona Lau and Kain Picken who are at the forefront of ffiXXed, Angel Chen’s nineties nightmare, Vega Zaishi Wang’s futuristic silhouettes, Chen Peng’s one size only fashion, Anaïs Jourden’s garments with a complex touch, Liu Hao’s brand Ms MIN worn and popularised by Rosamund Pike in the film Gone Girl. China is no longer behind the looking glass: it’s here, among us. And its contribution to the world of fashion is extremely refreshing.

Angel Chen
Vega Zaishi Wang