A woman carries an umbrella past a fashion outlet offering its summer sale at a shopping mall in Beijing.
HONG KONG — Chinese domestic spending is once again going full throttle. National retail sales data in the second quarter of the year revved up 11 percent, stunning analysts, and if there was any skepticism about those government statistics, international fashion houses from Kering to Hermès and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton have reported stronger bottom lines, boosted by a rejuvenated China market.The impact isn't being felt in the same way among Chinese fashion brands and retailers, however.RELATED: China Q2 GDP, Retail Sales Beat Expectations >> Growth in the luxury space for Chinese labels seems slow or even stagnant. Little has been heard about Qeelin, the high-end jewelry brand Kering bought in 2013, or Shang Xia, the luxe apparel and home goods venture from Hermès started in 2010.Shanghai Tang epitomizes the latter problem. Acquired in 1998 by Compagnie Financière Richemont SA, the brand failed to find a larger audience or innovate much past its signature qipao dresses, and eventually was sold off to a new Italian owner last month.On the other end of the spectrum, some of China's biggest fashion chains are closing stores en masse. For instance, Bosideng at its peak counted over 7,000 doors, but has closed around 3,000 of them in the last decade — roughly the equivalent of Gap disappearing in its entirety. Metersbonwe's network has contracted from over 5,200 stores in 2012 to 3,700 units in 2015, while Semir has shuttered 300 stores annually over the past four years.Segment by segment, here's what is going on in each space.
[caption id="attachment_10956470" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] A Shang Xia store.[/caption]Some took Richemont's disposal of Shanghai Tang as a sign that Chinese shoppers are unwilling to pay luxury prices for something from their own country, but a report this week from consulting firm OC&C Strategy found that attitudes toward homegrown brands have changed dramatically in a short period of time.
International brands are disproportionately popular in China, but the number of shoppers who said they like Chinese brands has more than doubled in the span of two years to 46 percent. The survey, carried out between March and April and covering 2,450 people across China, also showed that negative opinions toward homegrown labels dropped to a low of 10 percent from 24 percent."We asked them what would be the number one reason why you would not buy a Chinese brand," OC&C partner Pascal Martin said. "The number-one answer by far — 47 percent of respondents — said poor design. Not quality, they are fine with quality. If we had done that survey 10 years ago, quality would be one of the top criteria." Moreover, "too expensive" only came in fifth as a reason not to purchase, indicating that Chinese shoppers are happy to open their wallets if they like the design. When asked why they shopped domestic labels, "Chinese elements" were chosen by 39 percent of the respondents, the second most-popular answer.
Frank Cintamani, founder of the Asian Couture Federation, said in his experience, Chinese consumers aren't ultimately swayed by a brand's origins. "[They] are looking for quality, they are looking for innovative design and they are looking for value, rather than where a designer is from," he said.https://www.instagram.com/p/BTo2P36DtgY/?taken-by=yiqingyinSome brands, at least in the case of Shanghai Tang, aren't able to convey an authentically Chinese message. Its most recent creative team was headed up by Europeans, who commuted between France and Hong Kong, which probably did it no favors."[Chinese shoppers] don't want to continue to look at designs of so-called Chinese-style fashion through the perspective of the Westerner and the romantic vision of Chinese culture," said Joanne Ooi, who once served as creative director of the brand. "That has always been the problem."That stands in contrast to the success of Chinese haute couturiers Guo Pei and Yiqing Yin — both have been invited to the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. Guo said in February that she would begin designing a ready-to-wear line too.For Qeelin and Shang Xia, it could come down to more of an issue of time to establish oneself.
Louis Houdart, the founder of China-based brand agency Creative Capital, said, "In luxury, either you have 100 years of history and expertise in something — Hermès, for example, is known for leather, horses — with a fully owned supply chain, or a star designer like Christian Dior, Marc Jacobs, or eventually the combination of both."
Shang Xia offers high-quality Chinese craftsmanship in apparel and home goods; however, its workforce is not exclusive to them. "This is very different from Hermès, where all the craftsmen work exclusively for Hermès in their own atelier," Houdart said. "It would probably have been easier, faster and cheaper for Hermès to purchase an older silk factory in Suzhou and relaunch it."
@chanel and @pharrell dropped what’s being dubbed as the world’s most exclusive sneakers yesterday. The Adidas Originals NMD Hu, which Williams designed in collaboration with Chanel and @adidasoriginals, has a waiting list of over 120K people who pre-registered online at chanelatcolette.fr –– and only 500 pairs are on sale. The singer predicted the resale value of the shoes could reach $40K. Read the full interview on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdfashion (📷: Dominique Maître)
@imanshumpert is diving deeper into his creative endeavors and relaunching his clothing line, Post 90s, and is helping to raise money for the hurricane victims in St. Maarten with a jersey he’s designed with his brother. The Cleveland Cavaliers player talked to WWD about kneeling during the national anthem, working with fashion brands and how he wants to be more than an @nba player. Read the interview on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
Not only does #TheProfit return to CNBC tonight, but @marcuslemonis has launched @shopmarcus, a new shopping and lifestyle retail experience in Aspen and Chicago, with more locations to come. The retail stores offer in-store stylists and a variety of contemporary womenswear selections.
“It’s life, I’m going to face it,” @mingxi11 sighed. “I fell, but you know, I think the most important thing is that I get back up. I had the love, the help from my sister — the girl next to me Gizele [Oliveira] — she’s so nice. When I went backstage everybody was trying to comfort me like ‘Oh Ming, it’s OK.’ I’m really, really touched. I think it’s them who gave me the courage to go back on stage for the finale,” Xi told WWD of her fall at the @victoriassecret fashion show. (📷: David Fisher) #wwdfashion #vsfashionshow #victoriassecret
@louisvuitton tapped @therealpeterlindbergh for its latest city-centric photo book, which is part of a series called Fashion Eye. The primarily black and white book captures the spirit of Berlin in 57 images shot between 1989 and 2019. “Berlin is an inspiration for me, more than a city. I mean @millajovovich is simply Berlin!” said Lindbergh. #wwdfashion
“You know, I think audiences expect a certain performance so I have to deliver to them what they’re expecting to a certain degree. But I’m also a different actor and a different person, I have my own spin on the character,” says @noahegalvin of his takeover of the leading role in “Dear Evan Hansen” following the departure of @bensplatt, who originated the role. Read WWD’s interview with the 23-year-old actor on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
For pre-fall 2018, @etro created richly-colored wonderland, using tapestries, textiles and wallpapers from the Eastern world at large. The line featured floral and graphic prints and jacquard motifs, like this two-piece look featured here. #wwdfashion (📷: Giovanna Pavesi)
@kith is moving into children’s. The men’s and women’s streetwear brand has launched Kidset, a Kith kids line located in New York at 64 Bleecker Street. The line includes mini versions of staple Kith pieces like the Astor bomber jacket and the Kith box logo sweatshirts, along with a wall that can display up to 120 pairs of shoes from @adidas, @newbalance, @timberland and more. #wwdfashion
“I just wanted to create this fully rounded character, but I do think what excited me most was just the opportunity to give a group of people representation that I feel needs it. I like to do characters in projects that stand for something and Karolina definitely does, so that was really exciting to me,” @ginnygardner says of her new role in @hulu’s “The Runaways.” Gardner plays Karolina Dean, a queer superhero, which is a rarity for @marvel. Read more about Gardner’s character on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @dandoperalski)