How do Chinese fashion designers become global fashion leaders? A new perspective on legitimization in China’s fashion system | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 2, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2051-7106
  • E-ISSN: 2051-7114



In China, Shanghai’s nascent fashion system seeks to emulate the Eurocentric system of fashion weeks and industry support groups. It promises designers a platform for global competition, yet there are tensions from within. Interaction with a fashion system inevitably means becoming validated or legitimized. Legitimization in turn depends upon gatekeepers who make aesthetic judgments about the status, quality and cultural value of a designer’s work. This article offers a new perspective on legitimization. I argue that some Chinese fashion designers are on the path to becoming global fashion designers because they have embraced a global aesthetic that resonates with the human condition, rather than the manufactured authenticity of a Eurocentric fashion system that perpetuates endless consumption. In this way, they are able to ‘self-legitimize’. I contend these designers are ‘designers for humans’, because they are able to explore the tensions of man, culture and environment in their practice. Furthermore, their design ethos pursues beauty, truth and harmony in the Chinese philosophical sense, as well as incorporating financial return in a process that is still enacted through a fashion system. Accordingly, cultural tradition, heritage and modernity, while still valuable have less impact on their practice.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): aesthetics; Buddhism; China; Daoism; design; fashion; haipai; Shanghai; sustainability
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