Having jointly created numerous “firsts,” the spirit of innovation has always served as the cornerstone of Sino-Swiss bilateral relations. Since the last fashion event celebrating bilateral relations in 2015, Switzerland and China have established an Innovative Strategic Partnership and launched the Sino-Swiss Year of Tourism in 2016 and 2017 respectively. The two countries have been working closely to continue to create new paths of cooperation.
To mark the visit of Swiss President Doris Leuthard to China, “innovation” is again in the spotlight involving both countries’ fashion and textile industries. InnoFashion 2017, a fashion and design evening which takes places at the Swiss Embassy in Beijing on May 15th, brings to the stage young and contemporary Chinese and Swiss designers with their creative fashion and jewelry collections, while the elaborated textile exhibition curated by the Hangzhou-based Textile Library and inspired by the landscapes from both countries, highlights the creativity and new technologies in the textile industry.
The evening show is curated by Mode Suisse, an industry platform promoting collaboration between fashion designers, schools, the textile industry and others, and attended by more than 1,000 Chinese and international guests. It stages a stunning and impressive catwalk show of seven Swiss and Chinese brands: Julian Zigerli, YVY, WUETHRICHFUERST, Akris, Wang Changrong, Roderic Wong and PRONOUNCE. The Swiss but highly international brand Akris concludes the show with their clean and modern 2017 spring/summer collection.
In the showrooms and exhibition booths on the compound of the embassy are design pieces from Chinese designer Octo Cheung, inspired by Swiss and Chinese mountains. The edgy, bold and modern jewelery pieces from designers of Geneva High School of Art and Design (HEAD – Genève) and China’s Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) explore the unlimited potentials of imagination and materials. Swiss artist Rose Morant and Swiss watchmaker Hublot also exhibit their exquisite works.
“Since Switzerland and China established the Innovative Strategic Partnership in 2016, our two countries have been working closely on developing platforms and institutionalizing frameworks at government level. We also know that you cannot order innovation, or inventions. Instead, you need to rely on private sectors and individual minds to make breakthroughs. That is why we have Innofashion. We’d like to use this platform to exemplify such collaboration among the government, private sectors and individuals, by bringing young creative minds together,” Swiss Ambassador Jean-Jacques de Dardel said of the event.
Swiss President Doris Leuthard is also present at the event and spoke highly of the dynamic Sino-Swiss relations, and her wishes for more advanced collaborations in all fields possible.
Creativity and innovation in textile industry
Switzerland has been ranked the No. 1 country in the world for innovation based on various international rankings. Among others, it tops the Global Innovation Index and the World Competitiveness Report by the World Economic Report for a few years in a row. One example of the innovative power of the Swiss textile industry is the application of a revolutionary biomedical fabric which covers heart cells to create heart pumps, as said of Jean-Philippe Jutzi, head of Culture and Media Affairs of the Swiss Embassy, at the press conference held prior to the event.
Speaking of the advantages the fashion and textile industry has in Switzerland, Yannick Aellen, director of Mode Suisse, cited the rise of sustainability in Switzerland. “Themes like sustainability are of great importance and can be developed, potentially find their audience in Switzerland. There is - even in Switzerland - still a very long way to make the general audience more sustainably aware but at least the way between an idea and product to the audience is rather short.”
Mary Ma, founder of Textile Library, a material design and research center in Hangzhou, elaborated the rich raw materials China has as a textile country. “In the traditional thinking, only silk and cotton can represent the Chinese material. In fact, today's China is much richer in raw materials and is strong in scientific and technological innovation. It has been quietly promoting the world's fashion arena. Any country's fashion brands are inseparable from the creation and export of Chinese materials.”
Dynamic Sino-Swiss bilateral relations
Switzerland and the People's Republic of China have maintained strong bilateral relations since 1950, when Switzerland, among the first Western countries, recognized the newly founded People’s Republic of China. The two countries now enjoy fruitful exchanges in different fields, from trade to investment, science, education, environment and sustainable development. In the cultural field, in January 2017, the two countries signed a bilateral cultural agreement during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit. In addition to the intense exchanges in the cultural field, the new agreement is expected to strengthen the relations between Swiss and Chinese artists in all creative sectors.