“It’s not a brand we bought for the Chinese. We bought it for its Chinese DNA,” Alexis Babeau, managing director of PPR’s luxury division, said Monday during a conference call to discuss the Qeelin purchase, disclosed late Sunday.
While financial terms were not disclosed, Babeau trumpeted “enormous” potential for the brand, known for contemporary interpretations of auspicious Chinese symbols such as pandas, wulu fruit, porcelain vases and lotus flowers.
He said PPR intends to multiply the size of the company, leveraging its experience in company-owned retail and online selling. Although he declined to give details about the rollout plan, sources said Qeelin principals spy potential in the long term for up to 100 locations in Greater China.
Chairman and creative director Dennis Chan and Frenchman Guillaume Brochard, chief executive officer, remain in their respective roles and retain minority stakes in the business they launched in 2004 with a boutique in Hong Kong’s IFC mall and with fashion plate Maggie Cheung, Chan’s muse, wearing its earrings while scooping up the best-actress prize at that year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Qeelin today operates 14 boutiques — seven in Mainland China, four in Hong Kong and three in Europe — plus sells its collections through wholesale accounts such as Colette in Paris and Restir in Tokyo.
While Asia generates about three-quarters of Qeelin’s revenues, Babeau noted that its jewelry has developed a local following in European markets including the U.K., where there are shops-in-shop in Selfridges and Harrods.
Qeelin produces fine jewelry, accessories and watches using gold, platinum, diamonds, sapphires, rubies and jade. Retail prices start at 2,000 euros, average 4,000 euros, and top out at about 30,000 euros (or $2,585, $5,170 and $38,775, respectively, at current exchange).
Babeau described a vibrant market for fine jewelry in China, and characterized Qeelin as “among the most luxurious” of homegrown brands. Its celebrity devotees are said to include Katy Perry, Kate Winslet, Marc Jacobs and Mischa Barton.
The Queelin acquisition beefs up PPR’s holdings in hard luxury, which include the Place Vendôme jeweler Boucheron and watch brands Girard-Perregaux and Jean Richard. It is the French conglomerate’s first Chinese brand.
PPR chairman and ceo François-Henri Pinault has said he spies massive potential for fashion and accessories as demographics and economic development promise to deliver some 3 billion young and affluent consumers from such emerging nations as China, Indonesia, Mexico, Brazil and Russia.
China is now the second largest apparel market in the world behind the U.S., with a compound annual growth rate of 11.8 percent over the last five years, and per capita spend on apparel growing at 11.3 percent despite the global recession, according to a Bernstein Research report released Monday.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast