Eco-fashion from China; an interview with D-SATA

By Staff | Women
Posted Apr 29, 2013

‘In cities such as Shanghai and Beijing where Hermès Birkins have become “ordinary”, there is an emerging trend to seek what is deemed inaccessible and to “statement shop”. Whether it is to make a statement as to one’s sophistication in style or one’s environmental or ethical consciousness, it may be possible for eco-fashion to position itself into the trending luxury rather than niche market.’ – CuR

Having been covered by over 200 fashion and lifestyle magazines, from Vogue to The Tatler, we sit down with fashion designer CuR from label D-SATA to talk eco-fashion in China!

From a business standpoint, eco fashion price points are not low, considering Chinese consumers are either very price and/or big brand conscious, how will this affect the development of eco-fashion in China?

While Chinese consumers overall do tend to be price and brand conscious, D-SATA’s consumers, though conscious of price, tend to be less conscious of the brand and more conscious of the materials or designs.  Since most of these consumers tend to already have a coveted collection of branded bags which are the same as what their girlfriends have, they being to seek accessories that are more unique and unaccessible except to those in the know.

Many of D-SATA’s Chinese consumers will buy name-branded bags as most buy barrettes, yet they will also buy one of each color of a D-SATA Buntal bag that a minority village women hand-wove with love. These women love that not only do their girlfriends gush and gab over how they have a bag no one else has but also the story and statement that the bag carries with it.

There has been a recent rise in these consumers which D-SATA believes will affect the development of eco-fashion in China. Whether or not the consumers are consciously aware of the effect their consumer choices has on the environment or not is uncertain but their support of eco-fashion brands do have an impact on the environment and the eco-fashion industry.

Eco fashion hasn’t picked up with consumers in China, and considering current consumer trends it might take a while for it to pick up.  What changes in mindset will it take for Chinese consumers to be really eager about eco or sustainable fashion? For example, in the US food trends such as vegan and paleo diets align with also eco-fashion.

With the recent pollution and “trending” of masks, there has been a change in the mindset of many Chinese consumers with regards to an overall concern for the environment and the need for its’ protection and preservation. However, this concern has yet to translate into a consideration of the impact their consumption choices may have on the environmental, especially with luxury purchases.

What is the best way to position eco-fashion to consumers?

Especially given that eco-fashion is neither inexpensive nor synonymous with luxury (which is a much more ubiquitous consumer trend in China), most may not be eager to carry a clutch made using conventional eco-fashion materials such as recycled magazines and pop can tabs which would wither or rust with the humidity.  As such, D-SATA believes that for consumers to be willing to carry eco-fashion clutches, there is a need to be creative with the materials and designs used so that there is also a minimal impact or sacrifice of style on the consumer, especially given the cosmopolitan lifestyle of most Beijing and Shanghai women. There are more and more women (and even men) in China who have the consumer confidence to no longer “status shop”. In cities such as Shanghai and Beijing where Hermès Birkins have become “ordinary”, there is an emerging trend to seek what is deemed inaccessible and to “statement shop”. Whether it is to make a statement as to one’s sophistication in style or one’s environmental or ethical consciousness, it may be possible for eco-fashion to position itself into the trending luxury rather than niche market.

What is the biggest trend you seeing in eco and sustainable fashion in China?

Unfortunately, the “biggest trend”, and one of the only overarching trends is that eco-fashion brands still seem to be rather limited to a niche market.  Fortunately, regardless of whether or not consumption choices are based on the support for ecofashion or simply like the designs, this niche market seems to be expanding in the U.S, especially in California and South Korea especially in Gangnam in Seoul!

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