Starting from a medal-winning sister, the designer brings China-chic into skating


04:09

Figure skating is one of the most popular winter sports, and glamorous outfits are part of the attraction. Western brands dominate the figure skating gear and outfit market, but a Chinese designer is trying to change that.

Zhang Yifan, the 26-year-old designer, founded the product lines in 2018. Her first piece is a high-end skating dress for a special customer, her younger sister Zhang Yixuan.

Zhang Yixuan (L) in the first dress designed by her sister Zhang Yifan (R). / CGTN

Zhang Yixuan (L) in the first dress designed by her sister Zhang Yifan (R). / CGTN

Yixuan is a figure skater. She won second place in national competitions in September, representing the city of Beijing. She has been practicing this sport since the age of four to five.

Yifan, who is now head of design at Yun Bing Wu Ji and Ice Queen, says her little sister Yixuan has been a big inspiration.

“She inspired me a lot. We grew up together. I majored in design, so I combined that with my love for my little sister,” Yixuan said.

The Chinese market is still dominated by Western brands like Karisma from Italy and Bolero from Russia, while footwear and accessories are dominated by Edea from Italy and Jackson Ultima Skates from Canada.

It’s a challenge for designers like Yifan, who want to introduce Chinese elements and patterns into figure skating outfits.

“Originality is very difficult to achieve. Consumers don’t favor Chinese designs and products. We want to change that. We knew it would be very difficult when we started, but people are more open to it now,” said Yifan said.

Yifan has three lines. Ice Queen for high-end costumes and stage dresses. Yun Bing Wu Ji is for training outfits with unique Chinese elements. Skating Safe is intended for protective equipment.

original design works by Zhang Yixuan. / CGTN

original design works by Zhang Yixuan. / CGTN

With the help of Yixuan, every item they sold is tested by teammates and professional ice figure skaters before being released to market.

“My sister got to know the sport and fell in love with it because of me. She has a degree in fashion design and says she feels good to see me wearing the outfits she designs. proud to wear it because my sister designed and spent so much time on it, ”Yixuan shared her thoughts with a smile on her face.

Yifan’s products are making waves on social media platforms like Douyin and Le Rouge, appealing to younger consumers, as Chinese chic becomes a popular trend among younger generations. “Chic China” is a term that describes the trend for China-centric designs.

Despite the challenges, their mother Yu Mingjie is proud of her two daughters.

“They have both chosen the right career and are doing what they love. They are successful and are growing in what they do,” Yu explained.

The sisters want to represent China in their own way by showing off as an athlete and bringing Chinese creations to the world stage.

Yixuan says she will dedicate her whole life to figure skating, adding, “Figure skating has become a part of me. I will be with him for the rest of my life, as an athlete, coach, referee or whatever else. . ”

Yifan is keen to expand its brands overseas, and is also looking to expand its product lines to other sports. However, she admits that Chinese designers have a long way to go in winter sportswear.

“China-chic has been recognized around the world. Made in China was also recognized. We want to sell our products abroad. Some of our products have been exported to Canada, New Zealand and Australia. We have established channels to sell our products. We will continue to develop, ”Yifan said.

She hopes the upcoming Winter Olympics will encourage more Chinese designers to try their hand at winter sportswear and introduce more Chinese models to the world market.


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