China’s biggest streetwear fair, postponed from its original December dates due to sporadic Covid-19 outbreaks in China, ran its main three-day programme from Jan. 15 to 17 with one of global streetwear’s most in-demand names lending some star power from afar as the event’s co-curator.
Streetwear maven Jerry Lorenzo’s three brands — Fear of God, Essentials and Athletics — were some of the most popular draws for the fair, which was forced to limit its daily attendance to 4,000 people due to new restrictions on crowds introduced in Shanghai last week.
The fair provided Chinese consumers with its first look of Fear of God’s collaboration with Adidas, which will see its first products released for sale over the summer.
According to Innersect brand director, David Tang, the fair, which in a normal year hosts as many as 60,000 young Chinese street culture fans over the course of a weekend, will keep some installations in place at its TX Huaihai location in the downtown shopping district of Huaihai Road until Jan. 23 in order to give more people a chance to experience them. He expects 35,000 people will attend when the extended days are taken into account.
Jerry Lorenzo was unable to travel to Shanghai for the event, due to ongoing travel restrictions, but told BoF ahead of the fair that he had taken Innersect’s theme of “Balance” to curate a space within Innersect known as “Neighbourhood”, featuring artists, photographers and brands that, in Lorenzo’s words, “are coming from a balanced point of view, they’re not in their art strictly for commerce, they have a bigger purpose in their messaging and what they are bringing to the table.”
Lorenzo said that when he did attend Innersect in person three years ago, to release Fear of God’s Nike Air Force One collaboration, the response from local consumers was “overwhelming”.
“So when the opportunity came to have a larger presence and more of a point of view and to speak in a more direct and authentic way to the consumer there was an opportunity we felt we couldn’t pass up,” Lorenzo said.
For Innersect, the championing of a deeper connection between the streetwear and art worlds has been a long-running theme, making the broader creative collaboration with Lorenzo a natural choice, Tang said.
“Jerry Lorenzo has never spoken directly to Chinese consumers, he is a kind of mysterious person for them, so our audience is very interested [in him],” Tang added.
Lorenzo too, seems interested in China more broadly, not only in the opportunity to help shape the way in which the country’s burgeoning streetwear culture and community develops via the Innersect collaboration, but also the ways in which his own brands might be able to expand in the market.
“We can only grow so fast. When this opportunity came it was a way to authentically be in the region where we didn’t really have the necessary relationships to do that [ourselves] at this point so it was really perfect timing for us,” he said.
More than anything, Lorenzo says he hopes the young Chinese attendees of Innersect walk away having interacted with streetwear culture in a way that is less about consuming hyped products and more about feeling part of a community that offers something authentic.
“We hope people leave feeling they left with the cure and not just some medicine,” Lorenzo said. “That they leave feeling they’re a part of something honest and real and not just a buzz for the weekend.”
Luxury brands, local labels, major exhibitions and digital platforms are driving a more complex and increasingly fragmented streetwear sector in China.