Thu, Oct 17, 2013 - Page 12 News List

Less is more, except in China

What’s trending in Taiwan’s fashion industry today

By Enru Lin  /  Staff reporter

Fashion designer Robyn Hung shows off her new collection inspired by India and New York City.

Photo: Enru Lin, Taipei Times

At this year’s fashion trade exhibition Taipei IN Style, minimalism is in.

“I’m going for the simple and the wearable. Monochrome colors like black or white,” said Crystal Wang (王怡人) earlier this week at a press preview for the annual exhibition, which ends today.

Wang, a shipping heiress, launched her self-titled brand in Taipei in 2011. Her latest collection is unadorned frocks and dresses aimed at Taiwanese women.

“It’s not high fashion, though I incorporate some couture elements and silhouettes. The idea is to give office workers something appropriate that’s also nice. Why should they have to be Plain Janes?” she said.

Similarly, Taipei-based Liu Chun-ting (劉俊廷) is rolling out a collection that’s simple and precisely tailored to flow in clean lines. Klintonn Ke (柯林頓) debuts his brand next year with garments that avoid visual encumbrances like the zipper, which “affects the draping of the cloth.” And Eve Lin (林鈺倫) has a women’s collection of boyfriend shirts and utility pants that use cuffs and pockets patterned after men’s garments. She leans heavily on subdued tones of black and white to match local consumer tastes that are gradually shifting from cute and pastel to classic.

State of fashion

Robyn Hung (洪英妮), founder of Robyn, is an odd one out. Her collection is dizzyingly colorful and adventurous, even risky.

“Every season, the line is inspired by a different combination of cultures. For this collection, we tried to channel a young Indian woman, maybe a student, who is living in New York City. Next season, it will be South America and Africa,” Hung said.

Launched simultaneously in Taiwan and China, Hung’s brand has proven more successful in Shanghai, where she now resides.

“Of course China’s market is bigger, so sales are better there,” she said.

The Chinese market also particularly favors the newfangled, Hung added. “In China’s cities, the department stores are stocked with brands from South Korea, Europe, America and China — some of them are truly superb. Chinese consumers have a taste for the new, and they are very bold.”

In contrast, Hung said, Taiwanese consumers trend toward classic looks.

“Japanese brands are doing well, especially with office workers. Japanese fashion is very rule-oriented and looks very proper,” Hung said.

“Perhaps it’s a bit of a shame [for the local industry],” she said.

So far, Taiwan has yet to produce a red-carpet luxury brand like Gucci, though it does support a small collection of casual, boutique and bespoke brands for special occasions.

Steven Lee (李昆洺), who launched Merma International Co. in 2011 in downtown Taipei, designs hand-sewn wedding gowns and other formal wear inspired by the silhouette of a mermaid.

“The dresses fulfill a kind of dream for women on an important day. When it comes to this kind of high-end tailored clothing, the local demand is rising,” he said.

But Lee also has his eye on the China market. “For designers in Taiwan, it’s very arduous. The market is limited. The government tries to invest, but its resources are limited, too. So we have ideas about making it in the Chinese market, which is much, much larger than Taiwan’s.”

Lee added that he’ll move into China once his business stabilizes in Taiwan.

“If you’re well-known in Taiwan, you will be more welcome in China,” he said.

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