Shanghai is the most international city in China, where every industry has the opportunity to explore the diverse perspectives of its residents. The fashion industry is no exception, and last weekend saw Shanghai’s fashion scene sparkling with a new flare, as an array of diverse hidden talents took the runway for a one-of-a-kind event.
Shanghai Black Fashion Week is a weekend-long event that aims to highlight the diversity of fashion and designers in Shanghai. As the official website says, “Shanghai will unveil a secret world full of life, color and style” while showcasing designers and models of many backgrounds.
“Shanghai Black Fashion Week is a time to celebrate diversity, support local talents and bring to light the hidden creativity flourishing in China’s underground fashion world,” TaVanni Singleton, SBFW’s communications director tells us. “The fashion industry is highly political. It would take an upcoming designer a considerable amount of money and connections to get their work featured at a fashion week in New York, London, Paris, or even Shanghai. Shanghai Black Fashion Week seeks to break this monopoly by giving fresh fashion design graduates, novice designers, aspiring seamstresses, and underground creative minds a platform to display their individual talents to the world.”
DoBE WE@Bund serves as the main hub for the weekend. The venue is bustling with fashionistas all day Friday and Saturday either perusing the trade show, educating themselves at fashion industry seminars, or admiring the vibrant garments and stunning models on the runway.
A local Chinese university student described the show as full of energy. “All the models and designers have true enthusiasm in this fashion show because all of them regard it as more than just a job,” he told us.
At the end of each day attendees, designers, and event organizers kept the party going and the fashion coming by joining up at one of Shanghai’s many clubs for an after party. On Friday, the urban lounge EMPIRE opened its doors to guests offering complimentary drinks, special food, and a live DJ spinning hip hop and trap music. The vibe alternated between easy-going mingling and high-energy dance circles. One attendee explained his excitement for the event:
“Having experienced my fair share of racism in Shanghai, for example being turned away at clubs because I’m black, it’s really great to have this kind of event that genuinely wants to celebrate diversity, and creates a space where everyone can turn up, dance, and enjoy fashion together.”
As the first Black Fashion Week in Shanghai, and the only one in China, the event fulfills an important cultural niche. In their closing speeches, the organizers shared sentiments recognizing their aim to fulfill such a need, pointing out that the event is a collaboration between the black community and the Chinese community and aims to unite the two groups by building bridges on a larger scale than just one-to-one relationships. TaVannia and the team are excited about their early success.
“We received such great response from our guests this year. Comments from the talent and audience confirmed the dire need for events like this, that support communities and promote diversity and China in a fun and inclusive way. We had educational seminars, a classy lounge, vendors, live afterparties, and of course, lots of fashion shows, and the guests seemed to enjoy every part.”
Now that its first program is wrapped, what should we be expecting next from Shanghai Black Fashion Week?
“On the menu next year is more of the same, but bigger and better. We’ve been contacted by designers and consulates from all over the world eager for their chance to participate in our next event. Guests can expect to see even more cultures and countries represented, unique fashion and even more grandiose production. The buzz has spread to all corners of the world, and our plan is to bring it all back to China on the next Shanghai Black Fashion Week runway. The spring/summer event is already in the works, so stay tuned for more details. We plan to make a home and tradition here in China.”