“We Need Investment, Patience And Vision”
Never one to shy away from a chance to criticize China’s dearth of powerful domestic brands that can rival international juggernauts like Louis Vuitton or Gucci, this week the influential publisher and Brand New China (BNC) boutique owner, Hong Huang (洪晃), told the Shenzhen Commercial News (深圳商报) that recent cases like the Da Vinci furniture scandal expose a sad truth: China still lacks a domestic luxury industry to speak of. Still, Hong — who recently signed Xiang Yaodong as BNC’s first in-house designer — and a growing number of Western-trained Chinese designers are looking to cultivate a home-grown luxury fashion industry that can rival international brands, and in this interview Hong displays her trademark mix of cynicism, humor and optimism.
From the interview (translation by Jing Daily team):
Shenzhen Commercial News (SCN): What’s the current status, in terms of development, of China’s luxury industry? Which industries and brands have grown the fastest?
Hong Huang (HH): China will eventually be the world’s most important luxury market, but we ourselves don’t even have a luxury goods industry to speak of. The Chinese do produce [their own] luxury goods like tea, baijiu, and maybe some health products. But national brands haven’t been established.
You can say that some brands of pu’erh tea are very expensive, but you can’t really say whether one of these brands is better than another.
SCN: Do you think, compared to other countries, China’s luxury goods industry has any special aspects that deserve people’s attention?
HH: We have no brand awareness, no strategic vision for cultivating [our own] brands.
SCN: From the Da Vinci furniture scandal we can see that China needs to build its own domestic luxury brands. Currently, in terms of establishing national luxury brands, what obstacles does China face that need to be dealt with? Is it just that Chinese consumers aren’t yet mature?
HH: Hard to say. I think the key part of the question whether we can build our own brands is that we need investment, patience and vision.
SCN: Please tell us about what you feel are the future prospects for China’s luxury industry.
HH: Right now China doesn’t have a luxury goods industry. The luxury categories that we do have [like tea or jade] can’t be replaced by international luxury brands. For instance, handbags. Can you name a Chinese handbag brand that’s as well-known and popular as Hermès? No, we don’t have one, but in the future I think we definitely will.