HONG KONG—Luxury watchmaker TW Steel just celebrated its new store here as it plots its expansion in China.
"Hong Kong is the number one watch market in the world so it's a huge opportunity," said Jordy Cobelens, chief executive of TW Steel. Cobelens, along with Kelly Rowland, came to town for a splashy event Thursday night at the Armani Aqua.
"The crisis is still being felt among the jewelers, but in Asia the whole middle class is growing so fast," he added.
The Dutch watchmaker opened up its first Hong Kong store in June at the Harbour City mall in Hong Kong's Tsim Sha Tsui district. It was the first in greater China but not the first in the region. TW Steel also has stores in Manila, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok.
"We wanted to test things first. Hong Kong is such an important market that if you do it, you need to do it right. You can't make any mistakes," he explained.
Hong Kong is only a first step into China. The watchmaker is gearing up for a big debut in mainland China next year. It plans to open 39 stores and shop-in-shops in first tier cities, said Cobelens. Another 30 to 35 openings are planned for 2014.
Opening shops is a new strategy for TW Steel, which distributes its watches mostly through jewelry stores or shop in shops in Europe and the U.S.
"Stores are definitely the right strategy for us in Asia. You have the full range you can offer. You can really have people experience the brand the way we want them to," Cobelens said.
TW Steel is planning to roll out standalone stores in other parts of the world eventually but wanted to try it out in Asia first as operational costs are lower in Asia than in other parts of the world, Cobelens explained.
Rowland, who has been a brand ambassador for TW Steel since last year, said she was excited to be in Hong Kong again and was hoping to have some time to breeze around Hong Kong. Rowland, dressed in a slim-fitting black and white dress, was sporting one of the two rose gold watches she designed for TW Steel.
"I have a lot of friends who've been here have nothing but great stories. They're always inspired by Hong Kong and I want to be inspired too!" she said.
Rowland is getting ready to release a new album in the first quarter next year, "Year of the Woman," which she said was inspired by old school R&B.
"I remember listening to a specific radio station growing up in Atlanta that had the best playlist. I remember thinking to myself I would love for that moment to exist on this album," she said.
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over-the-top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty