updated 21 Jun 2011, 08:33
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Fri, Apr 15, 2011
China Daily
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In the swim
by Yu Yilei

The swimsuit you'll wear this summer is most likely Chinese-made. Soon, the best designs in swimwear will be from China, and it may something designed by Liu Shanshan.

Imagine this. Out of every 10 swimsuits in the world, seven are made in China.

After the World Trade Organization lifted China-produced textile quotas in 2004, the country has dominated swimsuit production since, exporting up to 260 million pieces to the world the following year.

China is steadily evolving from being the world's garment factory to becoming a highly regarded design hub, with young local designers eager to present swimsuit designs that will wow the world like the revolutionary bikini invented by French engineer Louis Reard in 1946.

Liu Shanshan is just one of them.

The graduate from the Textile and Garment Academy of Qingdao University took the first prize of the Hosa Cup competition, the annual national swimsuit design contest which ended last week in Beijing. The contest is now in its seventh year.

Liu's collection - Pleasing Yourself - was shortlisted from 654 entries nationwide, and it topped the other 21 designs in the contest's grand final.

The young designer presented an interesting combination of gold rivets and black laces reminiscent of ancient armor, and that made her work stand out among the feminine themes in the rest of the competition.

"I want to show women's social status nowadays through my design," Liu explained. "They couple hardness with softness because they are not only housewives, but they also work as hard as the men outside the home. That's why I put a masculine element into my design.

"Also I merged trendy design elements such as clairvoyance and prints into my collection."

In one design, Liu's model spotted gladiator shoulder pads and a silk cloak with a two-piece black bikini with golden prints, making it a true study in contradiction.

"The visual impact of her design is brilliant," said Wang Yutao, a veteran Chinese designer and a member of the judging panel. "It's definitely the best piece I've seen in the contest."

Wang also explained the reason why he awarded Liu the top prize - there is huge market potential in her work.

"I really appreciate its market potential. The models who wear her swimsuits look as if they could go straight to the beach. When designing swimsuits, it is not always "less is better". You need to strike a balance in-between."

Leisure Time, a marine-themed collection by designer Zhang Yadong was another eye-catching line and won him the second prize, alongside with He Jiali who designed a men's full-body swimsuit collection.

Despite her victory, Liu felt the entries in the contest lacked originality because "the designers used lot of references", and that such references were common in a competition. "But we are still in a starting phase, and such references are helpful in making our own brands."

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