Graduates of Istituto Marangoni Shanghai have the courage to imagine the future of fashion

This November, fashion college Istituto Marangoni partnered with the Italian Cultural Institute in Shanghai to organize its annual graduate exhibition. Held at the Temple of Light on the Bund media space, it took viewers on an immersive journey into the future, a millennium from now – 3022. Under the nickname Zetawhich stands for the pronunciation of the letter Z in Italian, the exhibition was intended to represent the new design force of China’s Generation Z.

The runway kicked off with the 3D CGI film “Zeta 3022,” produced under the guidance of alumni Zhou Jun and Li Yushan, founders of pioneering Chinese independent label Pronounce. This pioneering Web3 initiative saw students Zhou Jie, Liu Yubing, Lan Yutong and Qi Linhui create four capsule collections captured on digital avatars. In this, the project simulated the potential environmental impact of human existence as well as technological advances in our future world.

The runway began with the 3D CGI film “Zeta 3022”, produced under the guidance of alumni Zhou Jun and Li Yushan, founders of Pronounce. Image courtesy of Istituto Marangoni

Guests were then transported back to 2022 to enjoy a real-life fashion show. A total of 12 avant-garde collections were presented by Istituto Marangoni graduates. Each piece fell into one of four central themes – The Origin, Dystopia, Dune and Rebirth – with the collections given curious names such as ‘1m2 of Air’, ‘Metamorphose’ or ‘2Na + 2H2O’, reflecting the Gen Z’s exploration of new fields and their forward spirit. To reach a wider audience, the show was broadcast live on local and global social media platforms, such as WeChat, Xiaohongshu, Weibo, Douyin and Instagram.

This was stated by Cheng Yingting, chief operating officer of Istituto Marangoni Shanghai Daily jing that Zeta was designed to show the mentality of this young generation, who speak their own language to communicate with their community. “As an educator, we would like to give them a stage,” she said. “We are proud to say that not only the fashion design part and the concept of the show, but also the creative direction and the marketing campaign were conceived, produced and implemented by our graduates. And we, as a school, have supported them in this important journey”.

That night, Sun Haoyue received the Most Outstanding Fashion Collection Award. His ‘Metamorphose’ collection experimented with contrasting forms – sharp and soft, as well as heavy and light – to express themes of human experience and the deformation caused by physical injury. Sun explained how “during the lockdown period, due to lack of materials, some ideas were difficult to implement. However, this has inspired me to reflect on the relationship between humans and their habitats. Thus my idea was born. The biggest challenge was carrying out design experiments with limited resources”.

Sun Haoyue’s collection “Metamorphose” experimented with contrasting forms to express themes of human experience and the deformation caused by physical injury. Image courtesy of Istituto Marangoni

Despite ongoing lockdowns due to Covid, the twelve students managed to pull off impressive looks, which conveyed their ideas out of this world with original design and tailoring. This points to the enormous potential of young talent to inject new perspectives into the industry. “How far can we go with innovative teaching methods during a pandemic?” was the question asked by Cheng.

China has become a hotbed of creativity in recent years, seeing talents like Pronounce, Susan Fang and Uma Wang emerge onto the global stage. The younger generations are reshaping the (often stereotyped and outdated) global understanding of the domestic fashion industry: they are leading the transition from Made in China to Designed in China. International institutions are recognizing the trend and are rushing to build campuses and networks in China’s fashion hub, Shanghai. The Paris International Institute of Fashion & Art is located within the Shanghai University of Engineering Science. And others like NABA, Central Saint Martins, and Parsons are heavily leveraging their alumni community to attract talent for their international schools or online courses.

China’s robust supply chain, mature e-commerce and social selling strength will only accelerate the growth of the industry. Fashion schools will play a vital role in promoting the next creatives. Istituto Marangoni’s local presence, global influence and long-term commitment to providing students with a platform to demonstrate their creativity have created a critical competitive advantage in the saturated education market.

While 3022 remains unpredictable (beyond creative imagination), Cheng is confident about the near future. “Students were equipped with the digital tools needed to realize their creative potential. Studying at Istituto Marangoni means evolving. They are now officially fashion professionals. In the future, they will become the anchor of the industry.”

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