Fashion China: 35 Independent Chinese Designers to Watch in 2024 – A Report by Ashley Dudarenok, Gemma A. Williams and ONEWAYX

Ashley Dudarenok, Gemma A. Williams, Annie Siara with the China Fashion Report 2024

China, often associated with technological advancements and manufacturing achievements, is also a fertile ground for creative minds in fashion. Despite being relatively young, China’s fashion ecosystem has demonstrated remarkable resilience. 

“China’s undergoing a transformation—post-COVID reopening, the natural slowdown of economic maturity, demographic changes, and more. These shifts are mirrored in fashion, with unique, homegrown designers capturing the essence of this era’s trends and sentiments,” says Ashley Dudarenok, founder of China digital consulting firm, ChoZan. “Today, domestic brands are crafting high-quality, innovative, and comfortable designs that often surpass global labels in capturing local tastes and trends.”

A naturalised Chinese national, Dudarenok has been living and working in greater China since 2006, and today is serving multinationals and global brands as they learn digitalisation from the world’s most competitive market.

“Chinese designers and brands across various industries, including cosmetics, fashion, F&B, and consumer electronics, are making an impact not only within China but internationally. It’s vital for the fashion industry to stay up-to-date with these developments and trends to maintain relevance, competitiveness, and sometimes even draw inspiration.”

This new year, Dudarenok has teamed up with Gemma A. Williams, a globally-focused writer and curator with a particular interest in the China fashion industry, Chinese designers and brands, luxury and fragrance. Her bespoke agency creates fashion narratives informed by culture. 

Dudarenok and Williams have crafted a curated report titled Fashion China: 35 Independent Chinese Designers to Watch in 2024, which provides a first-look of the country’s domestic fashion scene. The report highlights a selection of the most significant designers who have been reshaping the Chinese fashion landscape since 2015. 

They have also partnered with ONEWAYX, a company at the forefront of reshaping brand-consumer interactions in the virtual realm, to create a virtual version of the Fashion China Report, offering an engaging experience on a cutting-edge Metaverse platform.


The Next Chapter of China’s Fashion Scene

The pandemic posed significant challenges but also provided a valuable learning experience for designers in China, many of whom refocused on the domestic market as international movements were restricted. 

Emerging brands have not shied away from incorporating pandemic themes into their designs, and according to iiMedia Research, over half of the consumers now express confidence in the growth of domestic brands. This has led to increased interest in unique, niche brands, with designers drawing on cultural heritage and global trends to capture this attention.

“This next chapter expects brands to cement their reputations with designs funnelled through a cross-cultural approach that is entirely new and which appeals to the changing tastes of younger shoppers, particularly millennials and Gen Z, which value uniqueness and individuality,” says Williams. “Tastes are becoming more sophisticated and the design ethos of this group offers products that reflect personal style and identity rather than overt logos.”

Collaborations, which have evolved from purely financial motives to mutually beneficial partnerships, play a crucial role in this growth strategy. Young brands gain increased visibility, improved supply chains, and access to new audiences, partnering with both global and local companies. 

As digital avenues for self-expression expand, including the metaverse, Morgan Stanley forecasts an additional $50 billion in revenue for the fashion and luxury sectors from virtual products by 2030. With China’s advanced digital landscape and supportive policies, the stage is set for these designer brands to gain prominence in the next wave of fashion.


Business Strategies of Chinese Independent Fashion Designers

Eco-Conscious Co-Creation

China Fashion Report 2024

Image from Fashion China: 35 Independent Chinese Designers to Watch in 2024

Susan Fang’s eponymous label, launched in 2017, has quickly made its mark with a sustainability-centric approach to fashion. Fang’s vision of fashion as a celebration of individuality and unity is manifested through innovative, eco-friendly designs that honour cultural richness and textile craftsmanship. Her brand emphasises reducing waste through unique techniques like air-weaving and the mindful creation of sustainable accessories, all while championing body positivity.

The brand has harnessed the power of collaboration to broaden its reach and infuse its sustainability ethos into mainstream fashion. Partnerships with major brands such as Zara, Instax Fujifilm, Swarovski, and P&G have helped spread its message of responsible beauty. A notable venture in March 2023 included a whimsical, co-branded shoe release with Ugg, unveiled in Fang’s Autumn ’23 collection, which quickly gained traction online, epitomising the brand’s charm and commitment to sustainability.

Other brands can learn from Susan Fang’s strategy of combining sustainable fashion with strategic partnerships to amplify their message. By aligning with companies that share their values and leveraging social media platforms like RED, where Fang’s Ugg campaign achieved over 55,000 views, brands can enhance their visibility and resonate with consumers who are increasingly drawn to eco-conscious products and authentic brand narratives.


Immersive Digital Integration

China Fashion Report 2024 - 8on8

Image from Fashion China: 35 Independent Chinese Designers to Watch in 2024

8ON8, established in 2017 by Central Saint Martins alumnus Li Gong, has embraced a tech-forward strategy, seamlessly merging the physical and digital realms. The brand is known for its unique blend of contemporary sportswear and sharp men’s tailoring, utilising innovative pattern cutting and a fusion of technical and traditional textiles. Its annual sportsline, inspired by vintage fitness culture, underscores its commitment to fresh, forward-thinking design.

During the pandemic, 8ON8 responded to the growing appetite for “phygital” experiences by venturing into the Metaverse and experimenting with NFTs. This digital pivot aimed to nurture a sophisticated youth culture. The brand’s Autumn ’23 collection debuted in Vogue Meta-Ocean, a virtual environment that allowed 8ON8 to showcase its signature retro-futurism in an expansive, multi-dimensional context.

8ON8’s journey offers valuable insights for other brands considering a digital transition. By leveraging emerging platforms like the Metaverse, brands can present their vision in dynamic, interactive ways, reaching new audiences and enhancing the customer experience. This integration of technology into fashion branding not only captures the zeitgeist but also sets a precedent for the future of fashion presentation and consumer engagement.


The fashion industry in China has been experiencing a renaissance, as emerging brands thrive post-lockdown and existing ones reinvigorate their consumer base. The fluctuating sales trends, peaking in the pandemic years and dipping in 2022, are now on an upward trajectory as 2023 showed promising growth. Local designers are gaining international recognition, and global brands seek partnerships to tap into the youth market in China, valuing the unique cultural resonance these designers offer.

That’s why it’s important for global fashion brands to observe and assimilate the successful practices of these trailblazing designers. Their ability to integrate culturally rich narratives with cutting-edge sustainability and technology showcases a blueprint for building resilience and relevance in a rapidly evolving market. Learning from their adaptability, foresight, and consumer engagement strategies is beneficial for brands looking to thrive in the next era of fashion.

Don’t miss the opportunity to learn from China’s independent designers. Access the report today for the knowledge and tools to succeed in the competitive industry. Get your copy here.

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