Eve Enterprises started life as a booth in Beijing’s Xidan district, now it is a leading Chinese fashion company creating luxury menswear collections, it was faced with the formidiable task of reimagining the Mao suit for President Hu Jintao to wear at the PRC’s 60th anniversary celebrations. Eves’ success with the suit, a clever mixture of traditional and modern helped bring updated versions of the Mao suit back into fashion across the country. The company now operates over 500 stores in China and is looking abroad to expand, it was the first Chinese brand to show at London Collections: Men; and is partnering with local chains to bring its collections to Europe. If Eve Enterprises manages to crack Western markets it will be proof a creative Chinese firm can be a success in the West and help move the country away from its image as a low cost, poor quality clothing supplier.
Five Year Plan
One of the Chinese governments’ objectives in its latest five year plan is to increase the country’s clout in the area of “creative industries”, these are increasingly viewed as the lynchpin of successful world class cities such as London and Paris, which are held in high regard not thanks to their manufacturing ability, shipping tonnages or population, but their ability to produce creative output, whether that be television, film, fashion, architecture, design or fine art. This not only produces “high value added” wealth for the city, but also attracts the young, talented, creative people which give these places that indefinable “buzz” which makes them attractive to live in.
For all their success Shanghai and Beijing remain too polluted and industrial to match their western rivals, yet. That could change quickly however as Shanghai in particular encourages and allows its creative sector to develop fast. These efforts could allow China to project its creative industries as an international money spinner, but also its “soft power” more effectively abroad. The popularity of Chinese cultural products, could in theory make it a more attractive country to outsiders. But many observers believe that China’s one party, repressive political system will preclude it from ever becoming a true power in this regard.