After a three-year pandemic-enforced hiatus, the Asian Hairdesigner Festival made a triumphant return to the CECIS exhibition centre in Shanghai, laying on a vibrant showcase of hairdressing brands, teams and talent from across Asia
Competitions attracted hundreds of entries
AHA founder, Eric Zhao
Hosted by the Asian Hairdesigner Association, and attended by some 30,000 visitors, the two-day event included creative showcases, business forums and a dedicated exhibition floor featuring brands like Takara Belmont and YS Park, as well as a huge section dedicated to China’s burgeoning wigs market. Elsewhere, barbering was the main focus on Day One, with live barber battles attracting huge crowds on the competition floor, followed by some excellent stage shows, including members of the newly founded Asian Barber Association MRD and ID Hair Men, and Asian Young Hairdresser Association, Pandora, which took place in the venue’s huge theatre.
Wigs are big news in China right now
Business forums were well attended
On Day Two the focus shifted to colour and styling as stylists from China, Malaysia, South Korea and Thailand competed for big-money prizes. The event concluded with a VIP cocktail party attended by some of Asia’s biggest and most prominent hairdressing names, followed by an awards-giving ceremony and a series of shows, including a slick presentation from UK special guests Electric, led by Mark Woolley.
We arrived in Shanghai early in the morning and went straight to a model casting, choosing six models for our seminar and show. It’s always positive to present and share your work in front of an audience, and for us it’s an important part of the creative process: sharing your ideas and then moving on and thinking of new ideas.
It felt great to be back in Shanghai, working alongside Creative HEAD and the AHA, and reuniting with people we’ve got to know over several years. They’ve introduced some new members – barbers and youth teams, primarily – and you could feel the passion and enthusiasm. Where they’ve had this long association with Creative HEAD they’ve taken on new and innovative ideas, which has driven the Asian hair community forward.
The following day was devoted to prep. We took all six models and planned their hair to show off our messages in the best possible way and allocated the outfits, which were from the British designer Hemmikah.
In the seminar itself, Richard Wynne-Ellis and I both presented two contemporary Electric looks, focusing on a strong perimeter shape and free-moving layers within the interior shape of the haircut. We then discussed finishes to the hair – natural finishes, not too overcooked – using Electric products, which are designed to create that natural finish to the hair.
The show took place later the same day, consisting of a 5.5-minute presentation with eight models. All the looks had been created at London Fashion Week shows over the previous two seasons. One was inspired by Blade Runner, with a big roll into the centre; we also had two big afros that were gently teased into place so the hair still had natural texture and movement; and for one model we added a wig to the front of the hair, giving a feeling of textured hair, then styled a sleek, high, exaggerated ponytail at the back.
For music we used a track called: ‘Televised Minds’, which made it feel very British and that we were celebrating London and London Fashion Week, and where the Electric brand fits into that. There was a huge crowed, as there always is in China, which created an amazing feeling to present our ideas and get such great feedback. But more than that it was just such amazing hospitality; I enjoyed the whole experience and hope to go back and do it all again.