But Your Ripped Jeans Won't Keep you Warm

Collision & Integration: Fashion Brand Management students take on contemporary Chinese culture

Gu Zhaofei, Xiao Jiuxin and Zhu Wenjie are anything but lost in translation. Recent graduates of the Master in Fashion Brand Management, the creative trio met at Polimoda at the beginning of the school year. When beloved leading teacher Silvia Fossati helped them connect the dots by inspiring them to work on a meaningful rebranding project to share a real and honest contemporary China, the fashion brand triad knew they had found their final project.

Master in Fashion Brand Management students were tasked with rebranding an existing company, from concept to strategy. Students had to analyze a brand, create a concept proposal, present a full brand identity analysis, share the vision, mission and values of the brand, write up a detailed business analysis to demonstrate financial sustainability and much more. During the final presentation in a jam-packed Aula Magna, students presented a corporate-like book with detailed research and shared the entire rebranding project.

ANNAKIKI, the Chinese brand chosen by the dynamic trio, is an independent label founded by independent designer Anna Yang that pursues aesthetic design balance between tradition and rebellion. Gu Zhaofei, Xiao Jiuxin and Zhu Wenjie rebranded the company by introducing a never-seen-before truthfulness to the brand, bringing forward an unedited version of China inspired by the collision and integration of their complex and beautiful society.

The students also included a special collection in their ANNAKIKI rebranding, focalizing on contrasting colors, raised collars and cuffs and including a stitch design inspired by traditional Chinese parents, representing the conflict and integration of tradition and rebellion in line with ANNAKIKI’s DNA.

Talk to us about your project.

Our rebranding project ANNAKIKI was inspired by our leading teacher, Silvia. She was really interested in seeing a group of Chinese students and thought this was a great opportunity for us to work on something meaningful, especially because there have been incidents in the fashion industry with certain brands recently and perhaps people in the fashion industry didn’t really notice, but for those outside of the industry, there were a lot of misunderstandings.

Tell us about the concept.

Our concept is really realistic. The pictures are ours and we took them in Shanghai. We barely edited our pictures, we just adjusted the light a little bit, but besides that, nothing was altered. We really wanted to convey the real thing, the real China. It’s a very honest project.

Why was now the right time to work on a project like this one?

We mentioned it before, some of the incidents in the current fashion industry. But also, during our Master program, many professors talked to us about memorable fashion moments and how important the Chinese market is right now and how rapidly it’s developing. Chinese independent brands are growing so quickly and Made in China factories are not what they once were. Everything is growing and we wanted to break the stereotype.

“Chinese parents care more about their children being warm so they always ask if they can sew the holes in their children’s ripped jeans. This is one of the inspirational elements of our project.”

What was the hardest part?

Mostly logistics. We wanted to represent the realistic Chinese society and there were items we bought from China that took a long time to arrive.

There was a very interesting element in your rebranding action plan, designed to establish emotional resonance with your audience. What was the inspiration behind the stitches you integrated into the special collection?

This comes from traditional Chinese parents’ thinking. They care more about whether their children are warm, so they’re always asking if they can sew the holes in their children’s ripped jeans. This is one of the inspirational elements of our project. The design of the stitches shows the conflict and integration of tradition and rebellion.

Fill in the blank. Home is where ______ is.

Home is where sense of belonging is.

What are your future plans?

We’re all going back to China and I think we’re going to rest for a little bit! This has been a very intense Master’s program. There have been many late nights!

Finish the sentence. At Polimoda, we became…

Brave.

Congratulations Gu Zhaofei, Xiao Jiuxin and Zhu Wenjie! We’re so proud of the work you’ve done and we’re excited to see what you work on next.

Cover: Gu Zhaofei, Xiao Jiuxin and Zhu Wenjie, photography by Serena Gallorini. Images: Gu Zhaofei, Xiao Jiuxin and Zhu Wenjie photoshoot, photography by Serena Gallorini