Yeli Gu is the former stylist and brand consultant who masterminded Ontimeshow, which has become one of China’s biggest fashion trade shows since its debut in 2014.
A Shanghai native, Gu saw an opportunity for a Ontimeshow when she noticed the conspicuous absence of trade shows in runway-heavy Shanghai Fashion Week. On the topic of arranging Ontimeshow’s set-up, Gu said in an interview with BoF, “I’ve put the designers and showrooms on an equal platform so, on the one hand, the showrooms can see the work of the designers and, on the other hand, the designers can learn about the business operation stage when an order is taken.”
Ontimeshow’s name takes inspiration from Confucian philosopher Mencius, who spoke of the favourable situations (such as timing, geography and social contexts) that allow for an event to take place — a fitting idiom for China’s current business landscape.
The Autumn/Winter 2019 iteration of the trade show, which always coincides with Shanghai Fashion week, saw almost 16,000 attendees and 337 brands, 28 percent of which were from overseas. Furthermore, it partnered with Tranoï, France’s largest trade show, for the first time, as well as the BFC, showcasing Roksanda, Finnish Consulate and 10 Corso Como. Ontimeshow also boasts buyers including Lane Crawford, IT, Opening Ceremony, Tmall, JD.com and Secoo.
Gu holds a degree in graphic design from Donghua University and has worked as a stylist and art director on ad campaigns for brands including Prada, Apple, Nike and Adidas, as well as editorials for Chinese editions of Vogue, Elle and AD. She also did the styling for Spike Jonze’s 2013 film Her.