Home to numerous world-class designer brands and prestigious fashion schools, London always attracts the most enthusiastic and talented fashionistas from around the world, China included.
Wang Hanzhang, an 18-year-old from south China's metropolis of Shenzhen, is no exception. The student designer smiled and waved to his cheering audience as he ran down the stage after his first menswear show was held in east London on Saturday.
"Our concept for this season is communication. People speaking different languages and coming from different regions all communicate through arts," he told Xinhua. Wang is a first-year undergraduate studying fashion in London.
"The whole thing was sensational and wonderful," said Eleanor Warrington, Wang's tutor, who is an associate lecturer at the London College of Fashion (LCF), a constituent college of the University of the Arts London (UAL).
Having established his label "adarksecret" in 2019, in high school, Wang learned that fashion is not just about dresses and looks but also about expression and communication. Then he decided to pursue further education in fashion and design in London, the heart of the industry.
"Britain has a long history of fashion and has always been a great place in respecting different cultures and nurturing new brands," he said.
Wang said college taught him to be more imaginative. "Here in London, the ideas of each individual are highly respected and valued."
Growing up in China and studying in Britain, Wang said a better fusion of East and West is what he's looking for. It's not about competition or replacement but about combination and exchanges, he said.
"I was inspired by some designs from ancient Chinese clothing in this season's work, which shows both Chinese and Western cultures," he said, noting that China's thousands of years of civilization have provided a rich source of inspiration for the development and innovation of the Chinese fashion industry.
"We don't want our students to leave their culture or their roots behind," a senior fashion designer and another of Wang's tutors, Karen Heard, said.
"Students come here, and we hopefully open things up and push the boundaries for them. And I think that's what we have seen today with Wang," she said.
A growing number of overseas Chinese students are now seen in the creative arts – fashion included. Data released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency show that in the 2021-2022 academic year, about 5,540 of UAL's students came from the Chinese mainland, while their number was only 1,750 in 2014-2015.
"China's economy has developed very well in the past decades, enabling people to pay more attention to areas like arts and sports," Wang said.
(With input from Xinhua)