“By Tapping Into The US Market, We Will Be Able To Build A Stronger Foundation For Our Brand”
This past week, Jing Daily attended the Spring/Summer 2013 runway show of one of China’s leading menswear brands, VLOV, at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York. Spearheaded by chairman, CEO, and chief designer Qingqing Wu, this year marked the second consecutive appearance for VLOV, having been the first mainland Chinese brand to show at New York Fashion Week in 2011. Again, the brand was the country’s sole representative.
Reeling in a healthy crowd including some of China’s top media and editorial teams, among them Esquire China, VLOV presented a queue of strong looks modeled by some of the industry’s top male models, including Sean O’Pry, Clement Chabernaud, Simone Nobili, Simon van Meervenne, River Viiperi, James Smith, and Sebastien Sauve.
Compared to last year’s inaugural showing, the S/S 2013 collection showed that VLOV has definitely upped its game, offering more than just monochromatic casual wear. This year’s runway show included a mix of investment pieces, such as luxuriously streamlined suits, sharply tailored jackets, must-have bags, and shirts exploring various and unique colorways while subtly incorporating Eastern influences. Among the standouts: a salmon-colored suit paired with an ink-printed dress shirt featuring a traditional Chinese watercolor mountain motif.
After the show, Jing Daily caught up with Qingqing Wu to discuss his brand, the challenges VLOV faces tapping into a global market, and what male shoppers are looking for. (Interview translated from the original Mandarin Chinese.)
Jing Daily (JD): Last year, VLOV was the first domestic Chinese brand to show at New York Fashion Week (NYFW). What changes have you made to the brand since then?
Qingqing Wu (QW): The most significant changes still lie within the clothing and designs themselves. Last year, the collection focused more on the ideas behind the designs, whereas this year’s collection focuses on more approachable, ready-to-wear pieces. Also, all designs have now been made available to the entire market for purchase and are available for custom orders in Hong Kong.
JD: How has NYFW helped VLOV in terms of brand-building? Does it help more in China or in the US?
QW: I think there are definitely benefits and advantages on both sides of the market. By showing in New York, I hope our brand is able to develop and reach into a more global market and network — both abroad and, more importantly, back home. By tapping into the US market, we will be able to build a stronger foundation for our brand.
JD: What challenges does VLOV face both in China and elsewhere?
QW: I think tapping into the US market is the brand’s greatest challenge — gaining a reputation outside of China and being able to compete in the US on a level playing field.
JD: What strategies is VLOV employing to tap into the international market?
QW: At the end of the day, VLOV is first and foremost a brand. Now, many retailers and even shopping malls have grown interested in working with VLOV. Hopefully, there will be more clients who are willing to represent VLOV and more opportunities to open more standalone stores.
JD: China’s fashion market has largely been geared toward female consumers. What are Chinese men (20-45) looking for, and how do you appeal to this demographic?
QW: Although women are more widely known for being the big shoppers, there are also a greater number of brands for women to choose from. The inverse is true of men. While men are not the largest consumer [group], standards and expectations of the overall quality of a brand are very high. Moreover, men tend to be more loyal to their brands of choice.