Dressed for success

Updated: 2011-03-11 11:24

By Zhang Jing (China Daily European Weekly)

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Xie also attributes his success to his good luck. He says his road to being recognized by the leading countries in the world of fashion is more or less a process of China recognized by the world.

Xie graduated in 1984 with top grades in textile design from Zhejiang Science and Technology University in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang province. In 1989, he went for further studies in fashion design in Japan, where he won the gold medal in a national competition. He later worked for NICOLE, a Japanese fashion design company in Tokyo and KENZO, a French fashion design company in Paris. In 2000, through the encouragement of a renowned cloth supplier in Milan, Italy, Xie set up his own brand. JEFEN was actually a combination of their first names.

"The road to success for a fashion designer will change," Xie says.

"In the past, it was more of the Japanese mode, which I followed. One needs to win the recognition of Paris to establish himself in the world. In the future, in less than 10 years, if a designer succeeds in China, he will have won the world," he says.

"The market in China is too huge to be ignored. And designers will play a very important role in this process."

Zhejiang Science and Technology University has been the cradle of other talented designers such as Zhang Hong, former chief designer of Youngor Group, known for its top quality gentlemen clothing, and Liu Gang, chief designer of Huading Group, know for its exquisite silk clothing. Guo Jiannan, a former colleague of Xie and now head of the fashion design department with the university, says 40 out of the top 100 fashion companies in China are located in Zhejiang. About 60 percent of the chief fashion designers or directors of women's fashion companies in Hangzhou graduated from the university.

Guo says his department has about 2,500 students. They are taught in Chinese and English and every year there is an exchange program with the renowned Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York. About 30 professors or researchers including Didier Grumbach from leading fashion countries such as Italy and Japan have given lectures there.

A 1,680-meter long street in downtown Hangzhou called Wulinlu alone has been a hub of women's fashion since its reformation in 2002.

Up to now, about 800 fashion stores with a total area of 50,000 square meters have opened up on the street. The area also acts as a testing venue for fashion entrepreneurs and students from the Hangzhou-based China Academy of Fine Arts as well as Zhejiang Science and Technology University.

Xie says it is easy to manage a small company but if one wants to do business worldwide, world-class management and marketing are crucial.

In that respect, Spanish retailer Zara stands out in its response to the fashion trends. "When a new style appears on the runway, within seven days, you can buy it at any Zara shop in the world," Xie says.

"But I don't want to be a world-class fashion company like Zara," Xie says.

"I am not for the consumption styles that H&M or Zara promote. You buy five or six new clothes every month and then throw them away easily. This is over consumption and irresponsible for the environment. The pollution in making clothes such as dyeing is beyond imagination and the damage done to the earth is irreversible," he says.

"My ideal is to buy one or two clothes of high quality and which really suit me," he says.

"When you open your wardrobe, it will be neat and tidy, and the clothes you keep are like friends that have accompanied you for a long time, sharing your laughter and tears.

"This is something you will treasure."




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