Shanghai, China’s Window to the World, Launches Shanghai Gala – WWD

Ranked as one of the “top 10 fashion capitals in the world,” Shanghai is launching a major event this fall to celebrate global fashion design and the fashion industry — the Shanghai Gala.

Facing a challenging economic environment and today’s complicated international relations, the fashion industry is experiencing a profound change and reshuffle. As the old order is being disrupted by an emerging new one, the global fashion industry is actively mobilizing its resources to ensure long-term development in the new landscape.

Looking at China, the importance of the market to the global fashion industry has long been self-evident. Since the country reopened after its pandemic-induced lockdowns, China has seen a string of visits from everyone from luxury titans like LVMH’s Bernard Arnault and Kering’s François-Henri Pinault to chief executive officers of major global fashion and beauty groups. Shanghai, as the first window to showcase China’s designer fashions to the outside world, has become the first stop on their trips to the country. Its importance is heightened by the fact that it is also the city with the largest GDP in China, which leads the economic development of the country with its industrial restructuring.

Li Qiang, who was elected China’s premier earlier this year, put forward the idea that “there is design everywhere in the city, and there is design everywhere in life” when he was the mayor of Shanghai at the time of the inaugural WDCC (World Design Capital Congress) last year. It is clear that China’s leading industry firms are determined to make Shanghai a world-class design and fashion capital.

Despite the impact of COVID-19 last year, Shanghai still gathered international resources to highlight fashion trends, lifestyles, the industry and trade, including the Digital Shanghai Fashion Week; the fifth China International Import Expo with a cumulative intended transaction value of $73.52 billion, a year-over-year increase of 3.9 percent, as well as more than 50 summits, forums and design activities gathering elites of the global design industry, and the WDCC that brought together 1,416 design teams with 2,128 design results from 18 countries.

With these activities and more, Shanghai, with a GDP of more than 5 trillion renminbi, or $694.4 billion, is working to establish itself as among the leaders in the global fashion industry. It is against this backdrop that the city has decided to hold the inaugural Shanghai Gala.

WWD’s sister publication, WWD China, which was launched in 2019, has been invited to help organize the gala, which will bring together fashion designers, creative voices, celebrities and other experts, as well as government representatives and diplomats from around the world.

The first Shanghai Gala will feature a red carpet event to celebrate the opening of a fashion design exhibition with the theme of “A New Vision of Design,” which is expected to be one of the highlights of the second WDCC in Shanghai. The 5,380-square-foot exhibition hall will be open to leading designers worldwide. Designers will be able to participate in the exhibition through a variety of exhibits such as fashion works, graphics, manuscripts, installation art and other installations. The exhibits will be presented in three separate units: “Heritage Fashion,” “Contemporary Fashion” and “Fashion for the Future.”

The exhibition aims to be a dialogue between the West and East, showcasing the latest developments in fashion design with a focus on the inspirations and creativity of the designers who are driving the industry today.

Over the past decades, Shanghai has not only become a major hub for international brands, but also has witnessed the rise of a strong local fashion industry. Together with other coastal cities in southeastern China, it has helped drive the overall development of the country’s fashion industry. The view concerning Shanghai’s current development is that it must attract leading investors and focus on advanced technologies to help foster industry champions.

Therefore, while providing a stage for designers to showcase their work and connect with the local market, the Shanghai Gala will also provide a platform for industry decision-makers to exchange their insights and expertise. At a time when China is striving for high-quality development, and the Chinese market provides ample room for growth in the midst of recovery, such exchanges are key.

China is stepping into a new era, and Shanghai is becoming a key city as the country hopes to become a global fashion power. After a sluggish period, the city is recovering rapidly despite the current challenges. It is a strategic time as the city pushes the “accelerator” button to grow its fashion sector, and the launch of the Shanghai Gala is seen as a major step toward helping to unleash the industry’s potential.

Editor’s Note: China Insight is a monthly column from WWD’s sister publication WWD China on developments in that key market.

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