For roughly the last thirty years, China has been known as the epicenter of cheap, mass-produced goods. And, although there is still truth to this perception, the country has made major strides over the past 10 years to transform itself into a significant player within the global fashion marketplace as both a high-end producer and an up-and-coming locus of design. China may not have Japan’s reputation for avant-garde designers or Italy’s history as a hub for hand-made goods, but the number of boutique brands—such as Visvim, FEIT and FFIXXED STUDIOS—that now produce in the country, as well as a rising crop of Chinese designed and/or made brands—such as Uma Wang, Xander Zhou and Feng Chen Wang—are indicative of China’s continuing ascent within the luxury fashion industry.

China’s current climb is not easy to explain, but it appears to be the result of three main interrelated factors: the dominance of Chinese factories and their ongoing transition from cheap to specialized labor; the rise of China’s per capita income over the past few decades, which has produced the Post-’90’s generation that has grown up with the economic privilege to develop international tastes through travel and education abroad; and the resulting rise of young Chinese designers that reflect and cater to these tastes.

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