By Li-mei Hoang
LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's emerging young talent kicked off London Fashion Week on Friday, showcasing the city's reputation for innovation, amid fears that growth in the global luxury market is slowing.
Draped silk dresses with abstract floral prints in cream, blue, orange and lime green were paired with sharp collars, capes and pleated detailing at J.JS Lee's opening show, inspired by a sculpture series by her friend, Korean artist Meekyoung Shin.
Turkish designer Bora Aksu dressed his models in transparent organza-layered dresses mixed with cotton, lace and crochets in peach, blue and violet.
More than 170 designers are taking part in London Fashion Week, which attracts more than 100 million pounds ($160 million) in orders each season, according to the British Fashion Council (BFC).
More than 5,000 buyers, journalists and bloggers come to see Britain's leading talents such as Paul Smith, Anya Hindmarch and Burberry's Christopher Bailey showcase their creations alongside emerging talents such as Simone Rocha and Thomas Tait.
"London Fashion Week is adored by buyers and press for its international reputation as the most innovative and experimental fashion capital," said Helen David, Fashion Director at luxury department store Harrods.
"We have watched many home-grown emerging talents such as Christopher Kane and Roksanda Ilincic develop and evolve ... becoming international fashion brands in their own right."
Since the start of 2013, Kane has signed for the luxury conglomerate Kering and the J.W. Anderson and Nicholas Kirkwood labels have signed up with LVMH.
This season sees the British Fashion Council focus on digital innovation as part of its long-term plan to boost growth in Britain's fashion industry.
"Our aspiration is that we want to get 100 percent of the designers that are showing at LFW not only online but ready for trading and commerce when their businesses are ready," said BFC chief executive Caroline Rush.
"We also want to make sure that more tech 'firsts' happen here in London. We have incredible fashion technology businesses here, we have incredible talent for collaboration, so we want to make sure that not only those new tech start-ups but also the established players are working with our designers and showcasing in a city that can probably do it best.”
However, lingering economic weakness in the euro zone, political tension between Russia and the West and currency fluctuations are continuing to weigh on the global luxury market, sparking concerns that growth this year will be subdued.
Research by the refund company Global Blue showed that second-quarter spending by Chinese tourists on luxury goods was up 9 percent from a year earlier, well below the double-digit annual growth of 30-50 percent seen in recent years.
London Fashion Week runs until Sept. 16.
(1 US dollar = 0.6157 British pound)
(Additional reporting by Ed Baran; Editing by Kevin Liffey)