Hung Huang, iLook, and Brand New China

Media mogul Hung Huang is a pivotal figure in the Chinese fashion industry. Not only did she start the successful local fashion magazine iLook, but she is also the founder of the world’s largest Chinese designer multi-brand store Brand New China. She is so influential in the media that she has been referred to as the “Chinese Oprah”, but she is now making her mark on the fashion industry by becoming one of the domestic design industry’s most influential proponents and key players in its development.

Hung Huang

3.21.12 – ChinaFile: Do’s and Dont’s to Launching Your Fashion Label in China (Hung Huang, WWD)

Hung Huang offers some surprising advice on what to do and not to do to successfully launch your brand in China. As a place where many brands have failed despite a huge potential market, China still presents many challenges and hurdles to foreign brands trying to capitalizing on its large population and purchasing power.

From the article:

DON’T: Have a runway show in China — it’s a fine idea for publicity, but don’t expect Chinese buyers to show up. They don’t exist yet.

Chinese fashion retailing does not have buyers. Department stores are landlords who lease space to brands. There is no buyer system in China. So if you join China Chic and do a runway show, its only benefit is media exposure and branding. No real orders will come from the show. The few stores that might buy are so small in scale they will not be able to float even the smallest fashion design studio.”

3.7.12 – ChinaFile: Made in China, Branded in Paris (Hung Huang, WWD)

Similar to Japanese designers in the 70s and 80s, many Chinese brands are staging shows and participating in tradeshows in Paris for branding purposes, as the market remains undeveloped in Mainland China. Wanting to redefine “Made in China”, pioneers like Hui Shan Zhang and Masha Ma are making names for themselves and defying stereotypes both at home and abroad.

ChinaFile Huishan Zhang

From the article:

““I am very lucky that these manufacturers are willing to produce small trail quantity of fabric for me,” the designer said. “Usually, they only take big bulk orders for export. What I want to show is that ‘Made in China,’ if combined with ‘Designed in China,’ can be high quality and good. Not the cheap stuff, or the fakes.””

1.18.12 – ChinaFile: Power Dressing (Hung Huang, WWD)

In an insightful analysis of the Chinese government’s historical and current relationship with fashion, Hung Huang speculates whether or not China’s first-lady-to-be will be included on the world stage; furthermore, there are high hopes from the domestic industry that she will be and can help promote China’s fashion industry.

From the article:

“China has a cultural tradition to separate women and political power. There is even a proverb that says beauty and power is a formula for disaster. Keeping true to this tradition, the various first ladies we have presented in the past 30 years are antithetical to the idea of a fashion icon. It would almost seem that someone was ordered to dress them as homely as possible to avoid any cultural stigma. Peng Liyuan, if allowed to take on the first lady’s public image, will be China’s first decent opportunity to present a fashionable first lady along with Carla Bruni and Michelle Obama. We hope.”

1.11.12 – ChinaFile: An Antidote to Glam (Hung Huang, WWD)

In her new weekly feature on WWD, media mogul Hung Huang discusses the state of Chinese fashion, and describes what she calls a “zen” style coming out of China. She cites Exception de MixMind, Wang Yi Yang’s Cha Gang and ZucZug, as well as rising star Uma Wang as top designer brands coming out of China.

From the article:

“The trend, best described as a 21st-century Zen, is a local antidote to glam. At the forefront of this trend is a brand called Exception. The brand has established 90 stores across China and has a annual turnover of more than 900 million yuan ($150 million). It recently opened a 1,800-square-meter flagship store in a glitzy mall alongside international brands, in the Southern city of Canton, where it is headquartered.”

12.6.11 – Homegrown, Home Sewn (Chen Nan, China Daily)

BNC’s 1st Anniversary Fashion Show featured designs from Uma Wang, Cha Gang, Pari Chen, Chictopia, Luvon by Liu Lu, May J., Ricostru, and many others. The article also includes extensive quotes from Pari Chen, as well as Angelica Cheung of Vogue China and Uma Wang.

From the article:

“While the winter weather has quieted most of Beijing’s Sanlitun Village, one store is glaring with lights and blaring with music. The runway show Only For BNC is about to begin, revealing the latest designs of the brand by publisher, blogger and talk show host Hong Huang, whose personal blog has received more than 100 million hits and whose Sina Weibo micro blog has 4 million followers. But the China Interactive Media Group chief executive, who has also starred in a movie and published three books, insists Brand New China (BNC) is her career’s zenith.”

December 2011 – Franca’s Point of View (No Author Attributed, iLook)

8.12.11 – “Chinese Fashion” Debate with Vega Wang, Hung Huang, and Timothy Parent (N/A, China Radio International)

A one-hour live debate on the future of the Chinese fashion industry, with a specific focus on development of domestic talent like Vega Wang.

From the show:

“Italy is currently playing host to “the China New Design” Series. It is a showcase of Chinese design in fashion, architecture and art. Its hope is to expose the world to the creativity and style of leading Chinese designers and expand the presence of the designers in the global economy.But will it work? China is a nation often plagued with a national brand of “cheap”products and “copied” concepts. In high fashion, those identities are killers. So can Chinese fashion triumph over the stigma of Chinese production? Can they not only enter the global market of high style but take a dominant position?”

8.9.11 – Hung Huang: “China Currently Has No Strategic Vision For Cultivating Our Own Brands” (No Author Attributed, Jing Daily)

An interview with Hung Huang about the lack of a domestic luxury industry and a vision to cultivate it.

From the article:

“Never one to shy away from a chance to criticize China’s dearth of powerful domestic brands that can rival international juggernauts like Louis Vuitton or Gucci, this week the influential publisher and Brand New China (BNC) boutique owner, Hong Huang (洪晃), told the Shenzhen Commercial News (深圳商报) that recent cases like the Da Vinci furniture scandal expose a sad truth: China still lacks a domestic luxury industry to speak of. Still, Hong — who recently signed Xiang Yaodong as BNC’s first in-house designer — and a growing number of Western-trained Chinese designers are looking to cultivate a home-grown luxury fashion industry that can rival international brands, and in this interview Hong displays her trademark mix of cynicism, humor and optimism.”

1.17.11 – Hung Huang Picks Her Top 5 Chinese Design Talents (Business of Fashion)

After opening BNC, Hung Huang boldly lists who she believes are China’s top 5 fashion design talents.

From the article:

“Imagine a brand new China where modern women reject increasingly ubiquitous foreign luxury goods, and their counterfeit reproductions, in favour of raiment designed by local Chinese fashion talent. This is the vision that Hung Huang, the entrepreneurial CEO of China Interactive Media Group and the oft-described “Oprah of China” — she also runs fashion magazine iLook, frequently appears on television as a cultural critic and pens one of China’s most widely read blogs — aims to achieve with her retail venture Brand New China, or BNC, a platform designed to encourage high quality, independent Chinese fashion.

12.7.10 – Hung Huang: “Chinese Interested in Domestic Designers” (Jing Daily)

Hung Huang explains the catalyst for opening her own store featuring Chinese designers and the response she’s received after opening BNC.


From the article:

“Sanlitun Village hoped to have Chinese designers open up shops in the North Village, so they asked me to attract some designers, which I thought was great. But when I went to pull in some local designers, I discovered they didn’t really have the ability to open their own stores.

Finally, only three designers opened boutiques, which didn’t take up the entire area that was allotted to them and ultimately left me with an empty L-shaped [retail] area. So afterwards, I opened my own store, specializing in products by Chinese designers, so those without the means to open their own boutiques would have a place to sell their designs.”

11.14.10 – Putting the Chinese in ‘Made in China’ (Alice Rawsthorn, New York Times)

The NYTimes explores the origins of the name and logo for BNC, which was designed by graphic designer Liu Zhizhi. He and Hung believe that there is a transition happening from simply ‘Made in China’ to ‘Designed in China’.

From the article:

“If Hollywood location scouts were searching for a place to convey the style-crazed consumerism of the new Beijing, the shiny new Sanlitun Village North shopping center would be a strong contender…

…But amid the glossy global branding, an unexpectedly homely tone is struck by a store selling the work of young Chinese designers. A white neon frieze is suspended beside the entrance depicting three things that you’d expect to find in an old-fashioned Chinese kitchen — a sprig of mint, grains of sticky rice and a leek.”

8.16.10 – Hung Huang Opens Upscale Made-in-China Boutique “BNC” (Jing Daily)

At the very beginning of her brave leap into the worlds of fashion and retail, Hung Huang discusses how first generation designer Wang Yi Yang inspired her to take on the cause of promoting the domestic industry.

Media mogul Hong Huang (洪晃)

From the WSJ Profile quoted in the article:

[Hung] calls the relationship between her company and Chinese designers a weak-weak alliance. Unlike the Chinese editions of Vogue, Elle and Cosmopolitan, iLook doesn’t have access to globally franchised content or long-established ties with luxury brands. The designers are young, creative talents who lack the funding and experience to build businesses and brands. “[The Western fashion magazines] eat the meat, and we get the soup,” she says.

But the soup might turn out to be pretty meaty. China’s luxury-goods market is expected to grow by 15% in 2010, leading the global market, according to a report by consulting firm Bain & Co. Big fashion brands like Chanel are using more Chinese models at their runway shows, and Liu Wen, a Chinese model, became the first Asian face of Estee Lauder earlier this year. Many believe the timing is ripe for China to have its own Issey Miyake and Rei Kawakubo, the Japanese designers.

Ms. Hung became fascinated by Chinese designers about five years ago when she saw fashion designs by Wang Yiyang. Branded as “Chagang,” or Tea Mug, Mr. Wang’s designs use elements from the much simpler era of the 1970s, such as a white enamel mug with thin blue rims and tote bags with large print characters such as “Shanghai” or “Beijing.”

“This designer managed to bring the fashion sense of my childhood to the 21st century. I was deeply touched,” she writes in the Editor’s Note in the March issue of this year, which was dedicated to Chinese designers.

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