Shanghai traditional crochet shines in fashion week

Yang Jian
Xinzhuang crochet, a listed heritage skill from Shanghai, has been widely involved in the newly unveiled collection of leading customization brand WJX.
Yang Jian

Shanghai's heritage skills, such as crochet and wool-knitting, have been highlighted on the city's annual haute couture fashion week under cooperation between handicraft masters and young fashion designers.

Lin Hua, a practitioner of Xinzhuang crochet, a listed heritage skill from Shanghai's Minhang District, clapped excitedly after watching a fashion show on the Bund during the 11th Shanghai New Customization Week.

Her traditional weaving skill, dating back to the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), is widely involved in the newly unveiled collection of leading customization brand WJX.

The delicate crochet patterns, jointly created by Lin and Ye Qing, founder and designer of the brand, were used as key adornments on the fashion costumes.

"I feel proud and excited because the traditional skill can be seen by more people," said Lin. "It is the true meaning of the passing down of these arts."

Using a crochet hook made of bamboo, bone or stainless steel, along with cotton, linen, silk or woolen yarn, the craftspeople, relying on their deft hands and smart ideas, create patterns with different forms and changes.

The skill, one of Shanghai's first batch of listed intangible cultural heritages, originated in the town in 1907, when clerks of the downtown Xujiahui Cathedral recruited local female villagers in Xinzhuang to make crochets for clothes.

Local artisans later involved Shanghai-style patterns and develop them into a unique East-meets-West skill. The delicate and beautiful weaving products became so popular that they were sold across the Yangtze River Delta region via the Shanghai-Hangzhou Railway through the 1980s.

Lin learned crocheting skills from her mother and grandmother. She later had a chance to study under Jin Longhua, a senior crochet maker.

With the help of the Shanghai Public Art Cooperation Center and the Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts, Lin cooperated with Ye to modify the skills and patterns to adapt the historical skill to fashion designs.

"Through such cross-border cooperation between artisans and designers, the beauty of the traditional skills can better match modern social aesthetics and return to the daily lives of people," said Zhang Lili, operating director of the center.

The center has helped many other traditional skills, such as the Shanghai-style wool-embroidery and knitting as well as the ancient embroidery of China's She ethnic minority to cooperate with designers, artists and fashion brands, Zhang said.

The city's annual haute couture fashion week was held between Wednesday and Sunday in the wider Yuyuan block between the Yuyuan Garden Malls and the Bund.

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