When I got the invitation to Taipei in Style Fashion Week I was over the moon. Taiwan for me, was always the land of electronics, nano technology, but fashion?
Taiwanese fashion was a complete enigma.
It was not something, which would come easily to my mind.
From what I learnt in history – I also imagined the island of Taiwan in permanent state of uncertainty and resistance to Chinese rule. Maybe, but when 2 planes landed from Shanghai and Beijing at the same time in Taipei airport? When there is one plane per hour flying from Hong Kong? I started to have serious doubts.
Fear, resistance – no! Uncertainty of the status quo, – maybe…
We arrived very late in the night and we did not see the city – it simply looked ordinary. In the morning, we did not have an opportunity to see it again – we walked for what felt like eternity in the sauna of the local weather. Mild spring of +40 degrees and humidity of 100%, made my asthma come back sneezing and wheezing, until the miracle of Ventolin came with Chinese language instructions.
Taipei Fashion Week for the first time invited international buyers and it was held in the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park.
This location has transformed through history since 1937 as the “Taiwan Sōtokufu Tobacco Monopoly Bureau” during the Japanese colonial time, and after restoration, it was taken over by the Taiwan Monopoly Bureau and renamed the “Taiwanese Provincial Tobacco and Alcohol Monopoly Bureau Songshan Plant”.
The concept of an “industrial village” was employed during the initial development of the Songshan Tobacco Factory, and besides the production line, the benefits and needs of the plant’s employees were also taken into consideration for the design of the site. With its large open spaces and courtyards, the site was a pioneering design for industrial plants at that time.
Its architectural style belongs to the genre of “Japanese Early Modernism”, with emphasis placed on horizontal lines, simple classic shapes, and refined workmanship. Since nobody told us about the most beautiful surroundings of the Fashion week, I assumed it was a school, which could not be further from the truth.
Well, back to the Fashion week. As the potential buyers/bloggers we had to give a survey of 20 booths. As every new Fashion week it had one big handicap – the prices were unjustified. Most of the shoes and accessories were produced in Mainland China, most of the styles were last season. It was quite disappointing.
The shows were very long and sometimes were accompanied by the famous Taiwanese singer starting and finishing the show. The styles were not very original, the quality of the garments were not at the top of the quality chain ((. In general, I thought Taipei in Style fashion week was a budding rose, which will become beautiful in time.
We made lots of trips to the city, to see what the shopping was about. The architectural style of Taipei is very similar to one of Tokyo (with the exception of Taipei 101, the tallest building in Asia). Many of the shops, as usual, were packed inside the shopping malls, with the standard structure of food in the basement, cosmetics and jewellery on the ground floor and the fashion starting from the 1st floor.
The fashion shopping is more about ecologically friendly materials and less fashion, more save the planet, style, so to speak. Fashion shopping is simply not very fashionable. Maybe there is a similarity to Sydney, where people do not care how they are dressed and the shops are a reflection of this? Even Japanese Takashimaya did not have an eye catcher. It was based solely on Taiwanese products, without one line of Issey Miyake (huge disappointment for meJ).
HTCs, the native Taiwanese mobile, electronics, multilingual bookshops were very impressive. I bought some skin care, which was solely nature based – I will give you my verdict later. I am sure it will be excellent.
If you ask me whether I want to attend Taipei in Style again, I would definitely say yes. I remember how Seoul Fashion week evolved from something simple and not very sophisticated to one of the most sophisticated fashion weeks in the world. I am sure, that Taipei in Style will evolve too.