On October 12, Istituto Marangoni Shanghai presented a large-scale physical show in China. The global University opened in the market ten years ago and this season, selected 13 graduates who showcased 42 pieces during Shanghai Fashion Week.
Produced under the direction of the alumni duo XUNRUO, the show used the theme "LIFE 3.0" as a springboard for young talents to explore a surreal vision of the future. Hangzhou-based XUNRUO closed the show held at the official Xintiandi showspace, by showing its Spring/Summer 2024 collection. XUNRUO and Yingting Cheng, the Chief Operating Officer for Istituto Marangoni China and Asia Pacific, spoke to local and international media after the upbeat show.
“We have a lot of digital tools these days but the physical touch is so important. Seeing shows in reality is always going to be more immersive for our guests,” Cheng said on the school’s return. When asked about the post-pandemic teaching methods employed at the campus, she continued: “We are even more practical now with a more hands on approach. We listen more to the students. It’s like a conversation.”
Industry leaders were present such as Giovanni Pungetti, managing director Asia of brand agency Tomorrow. “The final result was quite interesting, it was a real show,” he said after the event. Pungetti, who has worked with young talents throughout his career, continued: “It’s important to see what the young students are doing because it is giving you immediate feedback about what the young generation is doing. It’s incredibly important for our industry to be connected with this tribe.”
China has a vast well respected third level education ecosystem. The Times Higher Education World University Rankings – the only performance table that judges Chinese institutions against their global peers based on the Chinese Ministry of Education’s classification of subjects – put two Chinese universities in the top 20 of 2024’s list. Seven made it into the top 100 and 13 featured in the top 200. Tsinghua University, which includes fashion design, is the best-performing Chinese institution and was ranked 12th.
Coupled with this, a 2023 report from New Oriental Vision Overseas Consulting Company reveals that the nature of student demand for studying abroad is changing. While the US and UK top the list of international options, issues such as geopolitics, proximity and price are impacting choices.
“We use an Italian methodology with our rich Chinese heritage and encourage students to merge the two strands,” Cheng explained. The COO outlined key differentials like “a focus on materials, sustainability and technical” design processes. The ‘2+2 Bachelor-Master consecutive program’ offers students the ability to study overseas and complete a master's degree, certified by the Chinese Ministry of Education, in four years.
“Being in an environment that is connected to an international fashion ecosystem is a great opportunity for students in China,” added Pungetti. It also offers them connections to international brands as well as educators. To commemorate the 10th anniversary, fashion designer Stella McCartney – who showed her collection later in the fashion week – also partnered with students who reworked pieces from the sustainable brand.
Still the COO is pragmatic on the difficulties facing new graduates in the sector: “The challenges we have are global. Fashion is so competitive. We prepare them but they still might fail. It’s a really tough industry.”