MARANELLO, Italy — As the Chinese market continues to accelerate at breakneck speed, so does the desire for luxury goods. And the consumer for those goods is still largely untapped, growing more sophisticated by the day.
The understanding of that changing consumer is essential to any long-term expansion in China, according to a panel of top fashion executives.
“We must not be afraid of a Chinese invasion; we are ready for China and China is ready for us,” said Renzo Rosso, owner of Diesel, who noted that the European market is “saturated” and that it is a must to seek opportunities in China and the U.S.
Rosso, who didn’t rule out production in China, said it was “fundamental to study the country and its culture,” in order to build business in China. “We know the Chinese people now go out at night, they are proud of their bodies and want to show their new clothes — there is a lot of energy,” he said. Rosso added that Diesel does not produce different collections depending on the country. “Young people listen to the same music, watch the same movies, and they want the same clothes,” he said.
Executives gave their views during a recent roundtable organized by The Wall Street Journal Europe and Class Editori, one of Italy’s main publishing houses. They addressed, among other points, the role of Italian design around the world, underscored by the symbolism of the meeting site — the Enzo Ferrari Auditorium, steps from the plant where the legendary Ferraris are produced.
“We must keep in mind that quality, design, attention to details, customer care and our team spirit differentiate us from our competitors and contribute to the success of the Made in Italy label around the world,” said Luca di Montezemolo, president of Ferrari and automaker giant Fiat, and president of Italy’s main industrialists’ association, Confindustria. “We must be proud of what we do and always strive to innovate our technology.”
Miuccia Prada, in a videotaped presentation, said she is focused on understanding who buys her products, particularly in China. “We don’t really know what [China] is, although we work within that country,” she said. “Rich people are similar around the world, but we must understand and study Asia’s sociological differences.” Prada noted that, in comparison with China, Japan is more “conceptual and sophisticated,” Hong Kong is “ultraglamorous and chic.” She joked that she’s been told many of her customers in China are bureaucrats’ mistresses. “I’m making a point of understanding who they are,” she said with a laugh.
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