Fashion college shows youth how to design the future

(China Daily) | May 19, 2023


Vania Limousinea, an international student at Donghua University in Shanghai, displays her fashion collection at the school's graduation exhibition.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Armed with the skills and knowledge she picked up at the Shanghai International College of Fashion and Innovation at Donghua University, Vania Limousinea is now ready to return to Indonesia and take her first step into the fashion industry with the launching of her own brand.

Inspired by what she has learned and seen in China, Limousinea will create a formal wear collection that combines modernism with ikat fabric, a type of textile made using traditional Indonesian weaving techniques.

"All the creations will be made in a sustainable manner. What I hope to achieve with this brand is to change the perspectives that the younger generation, particularly those in Indonesia, have about traditional textiles," says Limousinea, who arrived in China in 2019.

According to Limousinea, whose grandparents are Chinese, the courses she has taken at the college in Shanghai were very helpful as they taught her important skills like software design, fashion illustration, photography and painting.

But the most important skill learned during this journey, she notes, was how to go about starting her own business.

"The Chinese market is much bigger and more diverse than Indonesia, and this opened my eyes to the fashion world and how it operates. It's difficult to find a fashion market that is as large as China," she says.



Vania Limousinea, an international student at Donghua University in Shanghai, displays her fashion collection at the school's graduation exhibition.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Limousinea is not the only Indonesian student from the school chasing a dream of managing a fashion brand. Sharon Sutanto, who graduated from the college in 2019, currently runs Mulya Zhenda, a company she founded after returning to Indonesia.

Located in Jakarta, Indonesia, and China's Shaoxing in Zhejiang province, the company designs fashion accessories that are produced in China. Sutanto also co-launched a fashion brand named Nuwa, which means a Chinese goddess of creation, after graduating from Donghua University.

Another senior student at the college who is about to graduate is Bilibashi Mariglen, who has already secured a role as an interior designer in Shanghai.

Just as Limousinea is keen to combine the old with the new, the Albanian is looking to integrate Asian architectural and interior styles with European sensibilities in his line of work.

"My ultimate goal is to gain extensive experience in Shanghai as an interior designer. I acknowledge that this may be a challenging endeavor because I'm a foreigner, but I am determined to pursue opportunities that will help me grow in my profession," he says.

Mariglen and Limousinea were among the 35 senior students from the fashion college who displayed their creations at the school's graduation exhibition at the Consinee Shanghai Center from April 26 to May 10.

Li Jun, the dean of the college, says that this year's graduation showcase was a reflection of how young designers today are bold to share their thoughts and perspectives with the world.

"Generation Z (those born between the mid-1990s and the early 2000s) have strong personalities. They like to focus on themselves and the communities they like," Li says.

"They will work hard to study the things they prefer and convert their hobbies into their work. They also want to use the latest technologies and materials to do exploration and research," he adds.

Li says that the trend of using new materials and artificial intelligence, the sustainable development of national culture and the environment, as well as the progress of a community with a shared future for mankind are all hot topics that these young people are currently paying attention to. Their interest in these topics have also been reflected in their graduation works.

"This group of graduates like to be introspective about the value of their works, as well as the value and significance of their future," he says.

According to Li, the college currently has 26 international students that account for about 12 percent of the overall student population. About 19 of them are from the countries that are involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.

"Many students come from the countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative and other countries because of one key feature of Donghua University — we gather experts from the entire textile industry chain, something that is rare in the world," he says.

"The students will not only learn knowledge from books but also get access to resources such as textile and clothing, as well as fashion-related enterprises in the Yangtze River Delta region." 


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