Taipei Fashion Week, now in its 6th year, rather falls under the fashion radar in international comparison. This may not be surprising given the density of fashion weeks worldwide and the busy schedules of fashion professionals. The journey may already be a challenge, if you are geographically located near the four most famous fashion week magnets such as Paris, Milan, London or New York. But the region of Taiwan is not an unknown in the fashion industry. Functional clothing has been produced there for decades. The craftsmanship has been there for a long time, but what is new is that the organisers want to make it more ‘fashionable.’ Fortunately, Taipei cannot escape the current trend of sustainability, so the main themes include sustainability, functionality, and diversity as a special focus.
The Fashion Week as such extended over larger dimensions, both in terms of time and space. The opening show was held in the distant city of Tainan at the Nankunshen Daitian Temple, and the shows were generously spread out over 2 weeks – the last one was clearly separated from the previous ones. This may be due to various internal inconsistencies or in the end not very practical for international visitors who need to get a good overview in a short time frame. Nevertheless, this is exactly what Taipei Fashion Week wanted to show: the abundance of diversity and, above all, infrastructure of working fashion locations.

Particularly impressive for someone who is more accustomed to markets characterised by individualists who like to get their elbows out due to increased competitive pressure: Taipei Fashion Week consistently produced exciting collectives. At the opening show, the seven labels each integrated various traditional art performances into their staging and designs; at the New Breed show, the youngest talents as well as the various fashion schools presented together; for the Taipei Sustainable Collection show, six sustainable fashion brands were brought in cooperation with eight Taiwanese textile manufacturers to develop eco-friendly fabrics that were then incorporated into the collections shown, or labels that worked together on a collection. But even when the designers performed alone, the idea of collective work was not absent – often the teams all came on stage for the finale.

With a few exceptions, such as show pieces or experimental works by students, the collections shown were very wearable. I got the impression that people were still quite cautious about switching from functional clothing, where they are as confident as they are strong, to groundbreaking fashion. However, some of the labels existed before Taipei Fashion Week and especially its newer alignment. So, you could argue about the chicken and egg problem, whether function-oriented practical clothing in different climatic zones possibly has a completely different value or just that the fashion shown was sometimes simple, but just right!

In my opinion, you need to attend it in person to fully understand Taipei Fashion Week as well as the work. The fashion scene acting in unison, coupled with a hospitality that is consistently overwhelming is difficult to describe, it must be experienced first-hand. This is not to say that the collections cannot be bought in other markets as a matter of course, without ever having been a guest of a fashion show. Nevertheless, it is important to be able to understand this still quite young Fashion Week and to turn a blind eye at one point or another, so that something is not nipped in the bud, which must still grow and find itself in some instances.

The fashion bubble here is on a very high level and does not have to hide in any – even the design does not need to change in my opinion. Challenges that are far more significant are of a linguistic nature, which is elementary for business relationships. But even here, I am convinced that these smaller sympathetic obstacles will soon be solved. I am very much looking forward to the next edition already – hopefully we'll get press releases in English. So, what were the highlights of Taipei Fashion Week?

Just In XX
Justin Yu-Ying Chou, who studied in Europe, is the creative mind behind the brand that started in the late 90s. He is the first Taiwanese fashion designer to be featured at New York Fashion Week. He was named one of New York Fashion Week's Best of Talents 2020 by Vogue Italia and designed the Olympic team uniform for the opening ceremony of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. He specialises in combining high fashion with Taiwanese craftsmanship and has been hailed by the media as a genius for crossover designs. He is the most sought-after leading Taiwanese designer for global brands such as Nike, Uniqlo and Levi's. Just In XX's collection, shown at the inaugural show at the Nankunshen Daitian Temple in Tainan in a stunning setting, is a combination of temple paintings and the students' favourite mangas. The result is a collection with a quirky and fun street-punk style and elements of traditional opera. It is also a manifestation of the coexistence of sports fashion and temple art.
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Zeit x Chow des Homme
An interesting collaboration between jewelry designer Ana Wang, with her jewelry label zeit, which has been in existence since 2020, and designer Billy Chow, who founded his label Chow des Homme, also in 2020. The Fall/Winter 2023 collection is inspired by the theme of liberalism, which is the first step for the two brands to have a direct contact with end consumers, from the design process to one of the shows at Fashion Week. The collection features architectural contours, clean cuts, metal hardware and a strong visual focus. In addition, the fabric stacks and smooth metallic surface in this collection are manifested through multi-layered compositions to emphasise and maintain the brand's futuristic style. As designers revealed later in the showroom, they were mainly concerned with how to incorporate accessories into clothing. Ana finishes her jewelry by hand, and as the name of her label zeit suggests, it's meant to reflect the zeitgeist (zeit is the German word for time).
Billy, on the other hand, emphasises oversizing and thus achieved better wearability and making the clothes more fashionable. Since it is important for them to design the collection unisex, the pieces can be worn by anyone who feels comfortable in it. In addition to the own cooperation of the two designers, Ana, who currently lives in Paris, also emphasized that the very young brand is open to further cooperation or even stores. The region is less important to them than that it must meet their aesthetics: cool, unisex, and just in line with the spirit of the times. A young team of designers who will certainly be heard from in the future – whether together as Zeit x Comme des Homme or with their own brands.
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Fuyue made its debut at Taipei Fashion Week, although it was founded back in 2012 by Shun-min Wang and Yun-sin Peng, who both graduated from the University of the Arts London. The brand embodies a fusion of Eastern and Western concepts, integrating Laozi's Taoism aesthetic philosophy with art that transcends time and space. Each season, the brand draws inspiration from art and life moments that inspire and move it in the present.
The Fall/Winter 2023 collection, titled I'm wearing the wrong clothes, is meant to reference amusing moments when people accidentally wear the wrong clothes, and focuses on observing these ‘wrong’ conditions and extracting design elements to create a clothing line. The intention is to question what exactly is wrong, or even rather encourage the wearer to free themselves from their imposed fashion restrictions. The details of the collection are an extension of the theme: apron pockets, stacked and pleated cuffs, asymmetrical pant legs, oversized silhouettes, and tight creases – a return to simplicity and the courage to ‘play’ with fashion. The designer drew inspiration from scenarios such as accidentally wearing an apron outdoors or wearing two pairs of pants at the same time to break the norms and recombine everything. The very clear message of the collection: be yourself and wear what makes you feel good!
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Claudia Wang
The eponymous designer Claudia Wang founded her fashion brand in 2020. Her fashion is characterised by rich and bold colours, which she knows how to combine skillfully. She comes from an artistic family, but as the designer and her mother later confided in me, the rebellious and defiant design language, as they themselves say, goes in a completely different direction. The application of 3D technology is to create an artistic Totem and a virtual show.
The theme of the collection presented on the catwalk, Civilization of Love, uses the virtual intellectual property of the brand to express the acceptance of fashion and society towards ‘other’ body shapes and identities. In addition, this season also tells stories with colours: the ideology of pink, representing vulnerable femininity, is broken through, and the harmony of yin and yang is manifested using colors. The cuts are mainly umbrella and H-shaped. The deconstructed cuts that change the body shapes can combine all kinds of body shapes and play with colors. Further, the collection this season is to describe the exploration of the planet, with the representations of eye-shaped flowers that are full of fantasy, along with the shapes of heart flowers and hand-painted fluff, all these elements add a touch of mystery, The basic visual tone of the collection is the mixture of faintly saturated pink with black gray, khaki and other colours.
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Designer Charin Yeh is behind the label of the same name, which was founded back in 1985. Since then, the label has become a successful part of the local fashion scene and is represented both with its own stores and in other concept stores. The designer, who grew up in peasant conditions near the Zhuoshui River, describes herself as having always been down-to-earth and close to nature. The first dress she made as a child was created from a fertilizer bag - resources that were an easy find on the farm. Traveling the world, she gained more experiences that she always incorporated into her collections. The theme of the Fall/Winter 2023 collection is Land of Nowhere and further develops the dystopia self-thinking. An artificially created fog made the models literally glide through clouds during the presentation. The idea is to create the image of an intellectual who reacts flexibly to the challenges of life with both hardness and a soft side and works with determination on a good future.
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