5 Chinese models to watch in 2011

5 Chinese models to watch in 2011

These rising stars of the fashion world will be leaving trails of fire on next year's catwalks

What's all the fuss about Chinese models lately? It might have something to do with the growing spending power and appetite for luxury fashion brands -- and the faces that represent them -- among Chinese consumers.

According to some estimates, China is set to become the world’s largest market for luxury goods in the next five to seven years. Even today, major labels such as Levi's, Hermes and Chanel are customizing their lines for Chinese consumers.

More on CNNGo: Fashion's new direction in China

It's no wonder then that a new class of Chinese models are stepping into the international spotlight, leaving even established names such as Du Juan to Liu Wen to yesterday's catwalks.

The yardstick used to measure a model's success is comprised of three factors: runway shows, media coverage and ad campaigns.

Here's an assessment of the hottest five up-and-coming Chinese models in each of these three areas. Who has what it takes to be a favorite on the international fashion circuit in 2011?

Chinese models -- Shu PeiShu Pei: One of Style.com's Top 10 New Faces

Shu Pei

This Henan-native was born in 1990 and began her modeling career in Shanghai.

In 2006, she was spotted by Liquid Models, one of Shanghai’s most influential modeling agencies, and started working with a number of local magazines and fashion photographers.

A year later, in 2007, Shu Pei was signed to New York’s Next Models and quickly began making the rounds in global fashion capitals.

Runway shows: Shu Pei walked in more than 22 shows during the 2009 New York Fashion Week. In October of the same year, she was named as Style.com’s Spring 2010 "Top Ten New Faces"  and since then has been featured in many leading fashion magazines.

Shu Pei also dominated runways in London, Paris, Milan and New York during the fall/winter season of 2010, walking almost 60 shows.

According to Style.com: “There's no denying that the frequent 'Vogue' China girl exploded in Europe this season.”

Singaporean photographer Rolento Ong, who has worked with Shu Pei since her early days in Shanghai, said that her “distinctively Oriental facial features” make her stand out among the crowd. He also praised her for a cooperative and extremely professional attitude, which he says are key factors in her success.

Media coverage: Shu Pei is currently among the most favored newcomer on international runways, ranked 33 out of 50 in Models.com's list of top models worldwide. She was also named by Chinese "Elle" as “Hottest supermodel of the year."

Ad campaigns: Shu Pei recently inked a lucrative contract with Maybelline and regularly appears in ads for big brands such as Gap and Benetton.

(Click "NEXT" to see more up-and-coming Chinese models.)

Chinese models -- Sun FeifeiSun Feifei was the face of the most recent Shanghai Fashion Week.

Sun Feifei

Born in 1989, Sun Feifei represented China in the Elite Model Look competition in 2008 and subsequently went on to achieve fame on the international modeling stage.

Runway shows: With the international fashion world slowing turning its collective consciousness toward Asia in recent years, it's no suprise that the godfather of fashion, Karl Lagerfeld, stayed ahead of the trend when he chose Sun for his Chanel Paris-Shanghai show in 2009.

Sun continued her rise to fame with appearances in many of the New York Fashion Week shows this past September. Casting director for New York Fashion Week Ashley Brokaw said, “[Sun] doesn’t look like anyone else. She’s an exceptional beauty.”

Sun was also the face of the recent Shanghai Fashion Week.

Media coverage: Sun is regularly featured in many top fashion magazines including "Marie Claire," "Elle" and "Vogue." She was also on the cover of the December issue of China’s "Elle Extra" magazine.

Unlike the "Vogue" China cover that she graced in September, Sun was not shot as part of a group of models. This time she dominated the space by herself, a testament to Sun's increasingly important place among the world’s top models.

Ad campaigns: Pay attention to the H&M billboards along Huaihai Lu and you'll be able to spot Sun. One of Style.com’s "Top ten models of fall 2010," this Shandong girl, along with established model Du Juan, are a part of H&M’s fall/winter 2010 advertising campaign.

(Click "NEXT" to see more up-and-coming Chinese models.)

Chinese models -- Ming Xi From "Go! Oriental Angels" to the runway, Ming Xi has been a fast success.

Ming Xi

Born in 1989, the Shangainese Ming Xi was born to be a model, first finding her way to the industry  as a contestant on Dragon TV’s "Go! Oriental Angels" TV talent quest.

Runway shows: Last October, Ming Xi took part in the Elite Model Look competition and finished among the top 15. Shortly after the competition she was signed by Givenchy and walked exclusively for the luxury label in January 2010.

Using the headline “Ming Dynasty," Models.com announced Ming Xi's entry to the international modeling scene, grabbing additional international attention.

Together with Shu Pei, Sun Fei Fei and Liu Wen, Ming Xi was named among the four leading women in fashion at New York Fashion Week this fall.

Media coverage: Ming Xi became noted as a face to watch after an interview with Italian "Vogue" in April 2010.

“I want to be a supermodel," said Ming Xi in the interview. "I still have much to learn, but I believe that I will achieve this dream one day.”

This September, she was featured on the cover of "Vogue" China’s fifth anniversary issue.

Ad campaigns: With Givenchy’s 2010 ad campaign under her belt and a number of contracts shot alongside internationally established models including Mariacarla Boscono, Ming Xi is on the way to achieving her dream.

(Click "NEXT" to see more up-and-coming Chinese models.)

Chinese models -- Bonnie ChenBonnie Chen moved from competitive gymnastics into modeling.

Bonnie Chen

Although currently one of China's biggest modeling names, Nanjing native Bonnie Chen started her career not on the runway but on the mats as a rhythmic gymnast, winning national championships in 1997 and 1998.

Runway shows: In 2001, while Chen was still in high school, she won the Elite Model Look competition in Hong Kong and went on to compete against models from more than 60 countries and territories. She placed ninth in the finals held in France, a remarkable achievement for someone with no prior experience in the field.

After graduating with a degree in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania in the United States, Chen signed with New York’s Next Models in 2009 and expanded her modeling career internationally in 2010.

Media coverage: Chen was featured in a shoot in the December issue of U.S. "Vogue" alongside eight top Asian fashion models. In an interview with the magazine, Chen said the most memorable part of her career was working with big names such as Grace Coddington and Steven Meisel.

Ad campaigns: After her appearance in "Vogue" China, Chen was featured in Bennetton’s fall/winter 2010 ad campaign.

Mainly focused on magazine shoots, Chen has yet to appear in many advertisements or runway shows. But considering 2010 was really only her first year in the spotlight, expect to see her more in 2011.

(Click "NEXT" to see more up-and-coming Chinese models.)

Chinese models -- Kiki KangKang has been praised for her "globally appealing face."

Kiki Kang

The name Kiki Kang may be the least well-known of the five mentioned here, but don’t underestimate her potential.

Born in 1989, this Sichuan native enrolled in a modeling school in Dalian at age 16 and took fourth place when she represented China in the Elite Model Look competition in 2007.

Runway shows: She made her debut in the international runways in 2009 and walked in 17 shows for the spring/winter 2011 season.

Media coverage: For a Chinese model, Kiki’s modeling career has gone global fairly quickly, with featues in a number of international magazines including "Marie Claire" UK and the cover of "Harper’s Bazaar" Singapore. Both outstanding achievements for a relative newcomer.

Ad campaigns: Kang's distinctive looks have helped her land a number of advertising appearances. Her bee-stung lips and mole on her right cheek give her a sultry air. Lane Crawford, Zac Posen and Topshop have all featured her in their ads.

Most recently, Me&City chose to feature Kang in its spring/summer 2011 ad campaign, which was shot in Berlin.

"[Kang] has a very globally appealing face, which suitably represents the attitude of being adaptable without losing sight of who you are that is behind our latest collection,” says Me&City marketing manager Joe Zhou of Kang's work with the company.

Photos of Shu Pei, Sun Feifei, Ming Xi and Bonnie Chen were taken by Bonae L'amour. Photos of Kiki Kang are courtesy of Premier Model Management.