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China's Young Designers Look for Bright Future in Fashion Week

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Young fashion designers, including college students, are being given a platform to showcase their work at the ongoing China Fashion Week as organizers seek out new talent and attempt to shake off accusations of copying that have dogged the industry.

In a show on Monday, models presented boldly-cut dresses designed by students from 25 domestic fashion schools. Seven other exhibitions featuring shoes, leather, underwear and wedding dresses are to be staged this week.

Liu Yuanfeng, vice chairman of the China Fashion Designers Association, which co-hosted the shows, told Xinhua Tuesday that the fashion week was a platform for young designers, from colleges and companies, to exchange ideas and stand out.

Liu said young Chinese designers had "quite big" potential, but their success would depend on their understanding of the fashion industry and their target consumer groups.

"The industry in China is still in its initial stage," he said." The general environment for the development of cultural and creative industries is very open.

"So there are many opportunities for young designers to stand out if they are talented," Liu said.

Chinese supermodel Lv Yan told Xinhua she would "walk" for young designers for free during the fashion week as it could "maybe push them a little."

She said China had many talented fashion designers, but "they need more opportunities and more sponsorship."

However, Chinese designers have been the target of doubts and criticism over the originality of their work.

Shortly after Spring Festival, the lunar new year, the dress worn by China Central Television hostess Dong Qing at a gala for the Lantern Festival was questioned. Commentators on the Internet said the drape design of Dong's dress was a copy of a foreign brand.

On-line critics have also taken fire at dresses presented at previous fashion weeks for being "similar" to works of foreign designers.

Wang Qing, chairman of the China Fashion Designers Association, said that copying of designs was a "serious" problem in China.

"Fashion design is a creative process that requires designers to not only understand the development of science and technology, but also that of ideology, history, culture and consumption habits," Wang said.

"With improved protection of intellectual property rights and faster changing fashion styles, copying will become more difficult," Wang said. "We encourage companies and designers to form their own styles."

The China Fashion Week 2010 spring/summer schedule was unveiled in Beijing Sunday. The nine-day event includes fashion shows, design contests and forums.

(Xinhua News Agency November 4, 2009)

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