Partners To Lead By Example With Initial Online-Focused Strategy
After months of planning and anticipation, American retailer J. Crew’s long-awaited Autumn/Winter 2012 expansion in partnership with Hong Kong’s Lane Crawford is finally set to launch. Appearing first at Lane Crawford Canton Road and online at lanecrawford.com on September 26, followed by Lane Crawford ifc mall on September 28, J.Crew will offer customers in Asia special access to curated women’s and men’s ready-to-wear collections, including shoes and accessories. This two-pronged on- and offline approach will give customers throughout Hong Kong and mainland China the ability to shop in-person at J. Crew outside of North America for the first time.
J. Crew’s partnership with Lane Crawford is unfolding in real-time this week as an instructive — and likely promising — case study of how some Western brands are entering, or perhaps should enter, the Chinese market. By starting with an online-heavy strategy and partnering with a department store, J. Crew is able to bypass many of the headaches that accompany the construction of a full-blown store. As Divia Harilela recently wrote for Jing Daily, “tread[ing] lightly by creating an online presence first” instead of diving head-first by establishing a physical presence is the wiser road to take, particularly for a brand that’s well-established at home but untested in Asia.
J. Crew began its Greater China expansion late last year, starting by offering flat-rate shipping to Hong Kong (HK$150) and mainland China (US$30). Within six months, Hong Kong quickly became one of J. Crew’s top five biggest markets. The company seems confident that finding and partnering with a credible retailer (or e-tailer) before going solo is an effective way to tackle the very different animal that is the Chinese market now that it’s set for a physical appearance. Only after a strong online presence is established under the wing of Lane Crawford will J. Crew likely find the idea of opening an independent brick-and-mortar store in Hong Kong less daunting and more economically viable.
But what’s a grand opening without a party? To celebrate the collaboration, a cocktail event will be held on October 11, 2012 at Lane Crawford ifc mall, attended by leading members of the J. Crew team, among them creative director Jenna Lyons, womenswear head designer Tom Mora and menswear head designer Frank Muytjens.