Beijing – The upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing is adding sparkle to a young costume designer’s growing business, as more Chinese take to the ice and seek tailor-made outfits for figure skating.
Zhang Yifan, a 25-year-old designer based in Beijing, has seen business boom since the city won its bid for the 2022 Games and began a campaign to lure 300 million Chinese to embrace winter sports.
“The effect is showing up on ice rinks,” Zhang said.
But while fashion on the ice has long been a highlight of Olympic figure skating, there have been few choices for China’s skaters until recently.
Zhang noticed the gap in the market when her teenage sister, Zhang Yixuan, began competing in figure skating but struggled to find outfits that matched her music.
Zhang Yifan was a student of theatre costume design at the time and quickly pivoted to skating costumes, learning the trade by experimenting on her sister.
“With figure skating, the drama just moves from the stage onto the ice,” she told Reuters during a recent visit to her studio.
Skating outfits have to combine elegance with function to withstand powerful twists and turns on the ice, while he crystals sewn onto dresses cannot be so heavy they weigh down the skaters.
Though Yixuan is not on the national team, her outfits for regional competitions are just as glamorous.
She took the ice in a jet-black jumpsuit embellished with crystals on one shoulder and gold and black sequins across the body and sleeves during a recent training session.
The outfits, all handmade, take around a month to make and cost up to 15,000 yuan ($2,352) each.
Zhang was inspired by Japanese designer Satomi Ito, whose designs for Yuzuru Hanyu she called stunning and “a perfect match with his music.”
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.