Is Hussin Chalayan Embracing the Chinese Market? LUXE.CO Exclusive Interview with the Designer

November 3,2018

As Chinese consumers rise their fashion consumption power, more and more international brands are interested to share the cake. Not only luxury brands, fast fashion giants, but also some famous pioneer fashion designers.

Hussein Chalayan visited China during the Shanghai Fashion Week. This trip was not only for the collaboration with automobile brand NIO’s lifestyle brand NIO Life, but he also did some market research of Chinese new generation consumers.

Above:Hussein Chalayan

The Designer Work between Aesthetic and Future

People who have passion in fashion industry might be very familiar with Hussein Chalayan. He is known for being one of the most experimental and innovative fashion designers. When media talk about him, they always add avant-garde in front of his name. The innovation and the connection he builds between technology and fashion attract many young designers, artist and architects to become his followers.

Recently in an interview for “Financial Times”, Chalayan said his childhood ambition was: “To be a pilot, then an architect, then an actor — then a designer.”

Hussein Chalayan also named Hüseyin Çağlayan. He was born in 1970 in Nicosia, Cyprus. When he gets older, he moved to London with his family in 1978.

Hussein Chalayan is not only interested in architecture and technology, he also obsessed with human’s body and new fabric. His fashion show is the earthquake to fashion industry. Most of his innovations go into developing fabrics and prints, the perfect tailoring and drape with clothing are also the main reasons why he attract so much attention from fashion industry.

His fascination with science and technology are reflected in the eclectic materials and fabrics he uses. As a result, his clout extends over fashion, into an inventory of gallery, museum exhibitions even into the modern ballet performance.

Chalayan has repertoire exhibitions at Arts Décoratifs in Paris, Istanbul Modern, the Contemporary Art Museum of Tokyo and London's Victoria & Albert Museum. Victoria & Albert Museum, The Kyoto Costume Institute, Musée du Louvre, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and MOMA in New York are all have saved his work.

Even celebrities who wear his dresses on the red carpet are the more serious, cerebral type: like Tilda Swinton, Swedish actress Noomi Rapace and British actress Zawe Ashton

In 1995, Chalayan beat 100 competitors to clinch a top London fashion design award. It’s helped him financially kick-start his label. In 2006, he was awarded an MBE for services to the fashion industry in the Queen’s Birthday Honor’s list.

Chalayan SS19

As a busy fashion designer, Hussein Chalayan doesn’t have a lot spare time. However, he is still very passionate about life. He loves food, music, film, relationships. He treasured his family and friends very much, just like normal person.

In the interview for, he emphasized that the message a brand passes to the consumer is very important. “Time makes the difference. The experienced designer makes the brand have more value. When consumers buy products they also buy the history behind the brand.”

Throughout the years, Chalayan has partnered with artists, musicians, actors and members of the design, art, theatre and fashion fields:

  • From 2006, he has collaborated with Swarovski. In the 2006 Runway Rocks, he showed a rotating collar dress. His installation piece for Swarovski titled “Repose” exhibited at the Kunsthalle Mannheim gallery and at the Crystal Palace, Milan.
  • In 2015, he has directed the dance “Gravity Fatigue” with Damien Jalet, and he also designed the costume for the dance.
  • In Paris Fashion Week 2016, he has partnered with Intel bring the wearable tech to his SS17 show.

The First Show in China

Hussein Chalayan said: "China is a wealthy place and also an interesting market."

The British designer have sold a 20% stake in his business to Centricus on January this year. Centricus is a global investment platform founded by Dalinc Ariburnu and Nizar Al-Bassam.

Centricus co-founder Dalinc Ariburnu said: “Even though the Chalayan brand is well known in certain parts of Asia, in particular Japan, there has been no penetration yet into China. This will be in the form of both e-commerce and local presence in big cities.”

Hussein Chalayan said:“You can’t just make product and sale it, you got to creating some marketing tool that will reach people and excite people and create community."

NIO x Chalayan

The collaboration with NIO Life is his first show in China. In 2017, he has worked with Chinese minimalist brand AMII, and they launched the "Chalayan for AMII" series together.

In fact, Hussein Chalayan and his brand always maintained a good relationship with Asia countries. Recently, they transferred all the production to Japan. Now fashion group Onward Group’s subsidiary Onward Kashiyama is taking care of all Chalayan’s production and Japan wholesale business.

After years of working with Onward Kashiyama, Hussein Chalayan is very confident about the quality of the clothes.“I think our design suits the Asian kind of physic”, he said proudly.

They did some small collaboration with a company to introduce themselves to Korean consumers. Even though they only make a few pieces at the time, the sale was impressive. Hussein Chalayan said, they might use the same strategy to expand the Chinese market.

NIO x Chalayan

The key word of the collaboration with NIO is“Born to push limits”. In the show, they first presented Chalayan 2019ss. Later, models wears the NIO X Chalayan capsule series appeared on the runway.Victoria’s Secret model Bruna Lírio stole the show in “shell,” a 3D-printed concept piece.

Hussein Chalayan’s label is collaborating with the famous new energy automobile company. It’s a successful market campaign for both of them.

Plans for Chinese Market

According to “CHINESE FASHION CONSUMER REPORT 2018”, fashion show is the best way to attract new generation consumers. Male consumers are always prefer the dynamic vision of the fashion information.

The show is totally different with others. After the release of NIO X Chalayan, all the models go back to stage. Audience can get on the stage and take photo with models. The 18 pieces of clothing constituting “NIO X Chalayan” collection are for sale on the NIO App and in the NIO life concept store. Price range from 199 yuan to 980 yuan.

NIO x Chalayan

Hussein Chalayan said, “Grow with young consumers is more interesting to me. We can grow with them and give them something back. I have a lot to offer.”

Hussein Chalayan has positioned his brand as a niche brand. The price range is around 300 to 2300 dollars, depending on the style and material of the clothes. He said:“Our price is not cheap, but not super expensive. You can choose from different price range and collection, like entry, medium and high. We offered a wardrobe, because I like to see people dress up for a certain occasion. ”

Chalayan SS19

Moreover, they are going to do the “accessories” in a quite big way. After the category developed, they believed it will make a big difference.

When we talked about expanding brand with Chinese capital, he said he think China is a big market, and he is open with partnership with Chinese company.

After established his own brand for 24 years, Hussein Chalayan still treasures his passion about design. “The brand identity is very important to me”, he said.

Centricus co-founder Dalinc Ariburnu stated: “We are thrilled to be entering the fashion industry with an investment in such a prestigious brand. With Centricus’ backing, Chalayan will have access to the management expertise and capital strength to support its geographic expansion and technological development.”

Hussein Chalayan is looking forward to find the partner who is really understanding the design culture and respecting the design. Other than investment, he hopes the partner will help the brand in business expansion and marketing. “It’s all about trust,” he said.

Chalayan SS19

Talented designers are very rare, but when they start their own label, they need to face numerous challenges. It happens to every single person in the fashion industry, also included Hussein Chalayan.

About Hussein Chalayan

Hussein Chalayan graduated in 1993 from London’s Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. His degree collection was bought by British iconic boutique Browns, launching him as a significant new fashion force.

In 1994 Hussein Chalayan started his own label, and he also has been named Designer of the Year at the British Fashion Awards twice, in 1999 and 2000

In 2002, Chalayan moved his internationally lauded fashion show from London to Paris where the Chalayan collection is shown seasonally.

He has directed several short films since 2003. Chalayan represented Turkey in the 2005 Venice Biennale with his film Absent Presence. In 2005, the Groninger Museum in the Netherland’s hosted a retrospective of his work.

In February 2008, he was appointed Creative Director of Puma. As the same time, he sold majority stake of his brand to Puma’s parent company Kering. He buys the brand back in 2010.

In 2014, French heritage brand Vionnet appointed Hussein Chalayan as a design consultant.

In 2015, he launched the first Chalayan’s flagship store in Mayfair, London. He also work as the head professor of Fashion at the University of Applied Arts Vienna.

Chalayan SS19

In February 2017, Hussein Chalayan goes back to London Fashion Week after 16 years with his Act to Form presentation at Sadlers Wells theatre.

He has sold a 20% stake in his business to Centricus in January this year.

Centricus was formed in May 2017 when FAB Partners acquired London-based Halkin Asset Management and rebranded. Centricus is led by former Deutsche Bank executive Nizar Al-Bassam and former Goldman Sachs partner Dalinc Ariburnu. This is the first deal they made in the fashion industry.


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