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TOKYO — Chanel reprised its Paris-Dallas Metiers d’Art runway show here on Wednesday, building an expansive Texas saloon-style set in a new skyscraper and flying over Jerry Hall and Alice Dellal as VIP guests.
This story first appeared in the June 5, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The house staged two shows on Wednesday afternoon and evening, inviting top clients and local fashion editors in a bid to tap into the brand’s “booming” business in Japan, according to Bruno Pavlovsky, president of fashion at Chanel.
“Japan has always been a key market for Chanel…our customers are still very loyal [to] the brand,” he said, adding that the collection of heavily embellished and fringed Western wear will hit stores in a few weeks.
Richard Collasse, president of Chanel Japan, said the brand’s collections of fashion, accessories and cosmetics are resonating with Japanese consumers, who are exhibiting a sense of optimism about the country’s economy. Citing the lead up to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo and the rebuilding efforts taking place in northeastern Japan, where the 2011 tsunami struck, Collasse said he thinks the positive business trend will continue.
“Last year was one of the best years we’ve ever had at Chanel in Japan and this year is probably going to be even better,” Collasse said, adding that the country’s sales tax hike in April — from 5 to 8 percent — did not hurt business.
“We were a bit worried after the consumer tax increase in April that our most expensive product, the ready-to-wear, would suffer a little bit because you know our prices are pretty high. Actually we had a very positive increase in April because the collection is wonderful,” Collasse said.
Neither executive disclosed sales figures for the brand.
Elsewhere in the region, Pavlovsky said the brand is not feeling the effects of the luxury goods market slowdown as it’s still a relatively small player with selective distribution. Chanel has 10 stores in Mainland China, nine in Hong Kong and two in Macau.
In keeping with Chanel’s exclusive image, the brand is not plotting major retail expansion in terms of new stores. Pavlovsky said the brand does not have plans to increase its store count in major Asian markets where it already has a retail network. Instead, the company is focusing on improving customer service at existing stores, and differentiating its stores to offer unique experiences at each location, he explained.
Reflecting that strategy, Collasse said Chanel has trimmed its retail network in Japan over the past few years to 34 stores from about 40. But Pavlovsky was quick to point out that the brand has seen its sales increase steadily over the same period.
Chanel staged its two shows on the fifth floor of the Toranomon Hills complex, a new multipurpose skyscraper located near Tokyo’s Shimbashi business district. The building, which will open to the public next week, will house offices, residences, restaurants and an Andaz Hotel.
Chanel creative director Karl Lagerfeld did not make the trip to Tokyo but his homage to the West won over Texas-born Hall, who occupied a front-row leather couch with Dellal. Hall said she is sticking with the theme when it comes to her free time in the city.
“I plan on doing a bit of shopping. I’m trying get some of this cowboy-look stuff,” she said.
The former model said she has several projects in the pipeline, including an upcoming role as the wicked queen in a pantomime of the “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” at London’s Richmond Theatre. She said she is gearing up to do an independent film in London called “The Forgotten Man.”
Hall is also preparing to perform a couple of songs at the Glastonbury Festival later this month with French actress Jeanne Marine.
“I’ve written the words. She’s written the music,” she said.