Shanghai clothing designers explore new possibilities in fashion created by China’s booming hi-tech manufacturing sector
EDINBURGH, UK, AUGUST 26, 2019 (5:00 PM) – Luminous tartan and shape-shifting fabrics were just some of the futuristic fashion spectacles witnessed by audiences last weekend (August 23–24) at Shanghai’s signature Fringe fashion showcase, “From Shanghai with Love”.
Co-hosted by the University of Edinburgh and Donghua University with support from the Shanghai Promotion Centre for City of Fashion (SPCF), the event at the Playfair Library explored ways that cutting-edge technologies can help foster innovation in design, customization, and sustainability for the clothing industry.
Now in its fourth year at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, this year’s event paid tribute to the past while celebrating the future. It consisted of a futuristic runway show themed “Qipao 3.0” and a “Kids and Parents” exhibition contrasting the clothing styles of Chinese families over the last 100 years with the emerging styles of the future.
“Qipao 3.0” was all about showcasing the possibilities of Shanghai fashion in the era of smart manufacturing — and also gave a nod to Scotland’s indelible mark on the world of fashion. The runway show was centred around the iconic figure-hugging Shanghainese dress known as the qipao (or cheongsam), featuring futuristic incarnations of the classic garment that represent close collaboration between cutting-edge technological researchers and forward-thinking fashion designers.
Highlights included a 3D Printing Cheongsam collection developed by Donghua University researchers working with hi-tech materials producer, Covestro. According to a spokesperson from the Shanghai International College of Fashion and Innovation at Donghua University, the collection was intended “to symbolize a new era of possibility in terms of production and customization capabilities in the fashion world.”
The designs were “inspired by the characters that make up the Chinese name for Scotland: su, ge, and lan. Respectively, these characters connote revival, which we took to mean a revival in the fashion industry driven by hi-tech manufacturing; the criss-crosses of the tartan design; and finally, the Yulan magnolia, which represents Shanghai.”
A Luminous Qipao collection was also showcased at the event, designed by Danish wearable fashion specialists Diffus Design in collaboration with staff and students from Donghua University. The signature luminous tartan effect of this garment was achieved through 3D-printed pankou knotted buttons housing LEDs, arranged in a criss-cross pattern and connected to a battery through conductive yarns developed by Professor Zhu Meifang’s team from Donghua University.
Also on show was a Shape-changing Qipao collection intended to emulate the way flower petals curl up and unfold in response to the presence of dew. Crafted using laser-cutting, composite manufacturing, and other hi-tech methods, this design made use of a selectively water-absorbent fibrous membrane developed by Donghua University professor Wang Hongzhi, allowing the garment to visibly wax and wane in response to varying ambient humidity levels.
The historical exhibition was titled “Kids and Parents: A Century of Family Fashion in China”. One half focused on the past, dedicated to primarily children’s clothing from the late Qing/early Republican era in China (c. 1860–1930), demonstrating changes in fashion over time with the merging of Chinese and Western cultures.
The other half, focused on the future, was a celebration of contemporary Chinese designer and artist, Chen Wen. On display was his mother-and-child clothing collection, which combines his love of nature, traditional Chinese landscape painting, and fashion by using eco-friendly production techniques to create landscape artwork on items of clothing.
About “From Shanghai with Love”
Each year, the SPCF-sponsored “From Shanghai with Love” focuses on presenting the qipao as reimagined in the minds of top design and technology experts working together, using fashion as a lens to explore the interplay between traditional and contemporary culture, the connection between technology and fashion, and changing ideas about femininity.
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