Our 10 Favorite Fashion Posts Of The Year
Revisiting The Prospects For “No Logo” Luxury In China (February 28)
Are wealthy Chinese shoppers starting to forego Louis Vuitton and Gucci for lesser-known, less ostentatious brands? That was the contention of Richemont Group CEO Geoffroy de la Bourdonnaye last week in Shanghai, where Richemont-owned Chloe held its Fifth Anniversary runway show, the company’s largest China event to date. Speaking to the AFP, de la Bourdonnaye said that while “China has been very fast at picking up the most well-known brands,” China’s more sophisticated consumers are “now looking for the brands that are not necessarily on the top of the radar screen. They’re looking for new interesting brands that bring something that other brands don’t bring.” Looking to bring low-key luxury to more of the country’s emerging second-tier cities, Chloe will open four new boutiques in China over the course of this year, adding to the 10 it currently operates, with stores planned for cities like Nanjing and Xi’an.
But is “no logo” luxury really set to take off in status-obsessed China?
Last month, Reuters quoted fashion executives and designers as saying that Chinese designers “will drive catwalk trends more than deep-pocketed Asian buyers as China’s creativity becomes fashions’ next big thing.” While China’s money has been an economic driver, and Chinese design cues have been picked up by some designers, the next part of fashion’s eastward tilt may be the rise of Chinese creativity.
As designer and retailer Elio Fiorucci told Reuters, “the next big issue for fashion is not China’s economic boom but Chinese creativity,” adding that while the Western world knows little about China’s aesthetic sensibility, China’s emerging designers may surprise us, since they have the talent and a deep knowledge of the Western fashion world. Gianluca Brozetti, Chief Executive of Roberto Cavalli, qualified these sentiments by saying that while the culture and creativity of Chinese designers will certainly be appreciated in the West, it will take time to make a major impact due to the lack of economic power.
Her name may be a tongue-twister in Chinese — Dài’ān Féngfúsītīngbǎo (黛安·冯芙丝汀宝) — but that hasn’t slowed Diane Von Furstenberg’s all-out effort to become a household name in China. Earlier this year, Von Furstenberg announced that she plans to expand her DVF line beyond the two stores currently operating in Beijing and Shanghai to more top-tier locations, and hopes to spread the word about her brand, well established in the West but nearly unheard of in China but for the country’s most fashion-savvy, via high-profile events that tap China’s contemporary art scene and the star power of Chinese celebrities. Considering Von Furstenberg’s friendship with folks like Wendi Deng, media queen Hong Huang, photographer Hai Bo and conceptual artist Zhang Huan, there’s no reason to discount Von Furstenberg’s ability to make a scene.
Though Von Furstenberg’s possibly tongue-in-cheek goal in China is to “sell every Chinese a t-shirt,” first she’s going to throw a couple of parties, the first being her “Red Ball” in Shanghai, and the second being the much-anticipated “Journey of a Dress” exhibition in Beijing.
British luxury label Burberry has been well-known for digital innovation, live-streaming runway shows, creating a crowd-sourced site for their trenchcoats, and increasing the brand’s social media presence. But Burberry has been aggressively expanding on the ground as well, with the peddler of plaid recently announcing it plans to double its 57 China locations within the next few years. Most recently, Burberry has intensified its digital push into China to match its brick-and-mortar offensive, launching official accounts on four Chinese social media platforms (Kaixin001, Douban, Youku, Sina Weibo). Soon, Burberry will roll out its most ambitious digital effort in China to date, with their April 13 fashion bash in Beijing set to include virtual image technology that combines live models, animated footage and holograms, music performances, and live-streaming via Burberry.com.
This event, which celebrates the opening of Burberry’s most technologically advanced flagship at Sparkle Roll Plaza, a 12,500 square foot megastore featuring exterior LED video walls, will be held at the Beijing Television Centre. The event will also feature the British band Keane, performing for the first time in China.
In recent years, a new fashion revolution has taken hold in China as a surge of avant-garde boutiques have opened in fashion-conscious cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Harnessing popular digital platforms like Sina Weibo and Douban, some of these small concept stores have managed to attain cult status, in the process becoming tastemakers for China’s new generation of fashion-savvy urbanites.
Beijing’s Dong Liang is no exception. Since its founding in 2009, the boutique has become a must-see destination for chic Beijingers. Situated in the sleepy Wudaoying Hutong, Dong Liang perfectly blends in with its surroundings, easily mistaken for just another banal shop. But when night falls, Dong Liang springs to life, its brightly lit interior clashing with the inky streets just outside. Fresh European-influenced design infuses the store with modernism and highlights the stars of the show: the products on display — all of which are created by Chinese designers.
Fumin Road: Shanghai’s New Local Fashion Hotspot (August 15)
Over the past year, Fumin Road (富民路), a once-sleepy street in Shanghai’s French Concession, has become something of a hotbed of activity for young local designers, several of whom have opened boutiques there as rents in fashion districts like Changle Road (长乐路) have skyrocketed. Much like Beijing neighborhoods like Nanluoguxiang, Baochao Hutong and Wudaoying Hutong, which have seen an influx of local designers and boutiques in recent years, Shanghai’s Fumin Road is now attracting everyone from independent designers like Helen Lee to multi-brand curated shops like Dong Liang (Jing Daily interview).
This week, Fashion Trend Digest takes a look at some of the area’s most promising stores and designer showrooms, suggesting that the creeping commercialism of Changle Road that chased out or dissuaded many up-and-coming local fashion designers has worked out in nearby Fumin Road’s favor. After taking a peek at some of the street’s more interesting boutiques, Fashion Trend Digest eventually concludes, “Changle Road is dead.”
Last weekend, members of the Jing Daily team had the privilege to attend the opening ceremony of Bulgari’s 125 Years of Italian Magnificence exhibition, held at Beijing’s National Museum of China. Running from September 4 to November 3, the retrospective exhibition showcases 600 pieces of Bulgari jewelry, highlighting the development of Italian design from over the course of Bulgari’s 125 year history.
In addition to the classic jewelry on show, the exhibition turns an eye to the traditional tastes and aesthetics of Italian artisans, adding a flavor of brand and luxury education (and cultural dialogue) to the retrospective. Having previously shown in Rome in 2009 and Paris in 2010, the Beijing exhibition at the National Museum is the first time that Bulgari’s retrospective has toured Asia.
Arguably the most important economic, cultural and fashion hub in western China, the luxury market in Chengdu has taken off in recent years, with the city regularly cited as a key new market for top high-end brands. Last year, Louis Vuitton registered record sales of $138 million in the city, while Cartier generated more revenue in Chengdu than in any other city in China. This August, at a fashion event in Chengdu, Liu Ruiming, editor-in-chief of Forbes China, projected that luxury sales in Chengdu will soon reach 10 billion yuan (US$1.57 billion), making it one of China’s largest single high-end markets. But, sales figures and (at times breathless) media coverage aside, what’s actually happening on the ground in Chengdu?
To get a better sense of the trends currently shaping this vast metropolitan area, home to over 14 million people, Jing Daily analyst Betty Chen recently spoke to an operations manager of a major global luxury brand — who, due to company policy, spoke on the condition of anonymity — about the current state of the Chengdu luxury market, the buying behavior of locals, the service level of luxury professionals, and more. Interview translated from the original Mandarin Chinese.
Culture Chanel Exhibition Launches In Beijing (November 7)
The traveling Culture Chanel exhibition, which swept through Shanghai earlier this year, hit the National Art Museum of China (NAMoC) in Beijing this weekend, and Jing Daily was there to take a peek. Wading through the packed house to gawk at the more than 400 items on display, skillfully organized by curator Jean-Louis Froment, we felt the exhibition was remarkably well done, particularly given that it was something of a commercial enterprise at a Chinese museum. Froment deserves credit for his inspired placing of important historical Chanel relics and the works of art from which the brand has derived inspiration over the decades. We noticed some pieces on show attracting more attention than others, with a selection of scattered cases displaying rare diamond-encrusted Chanel jewelry (perhaps unsurprisingly) proving highly popular with locals.
Occupying the entire third floor of NAMoC, the exhibition also included four rooms that could best be described as “outreach-esque.”
Following the release of the highly anticipated Versace for H&M collection in China on Thursday, November 17, Chinese media reports this week that the enthusiasm that initially met the collaboration has been replaced by high return and exchange rates at stores in Beijing, Hangzhou and Shanghai. As in cities like New York, where Madison Avenue Spy clocked “more than a small bin of returns” today, it appears shoppers at the debut of the collection all had a “buy now, return later” strategy. But as Chinese news sites and blogs observe this week, there’s a bit more to it in China than simple buyer’s remorse.
Previous H&M designer collaborations have been uniformly successful, with throngs of shoppers more than eager to wait in line for hours (or overnight), and have generally created reliable storms of publicity for the Swedish mass-market retailer. In this sense, Versace for H&M certainly worked its magic, but it may be the first such collection to encounter such high rates of return and exchange, at least in China. So what could have gone wrong?