Qing Qing “Richard” Wu’s VLOV is aiming for mass luxury appeal for middle-class men, Chinese style.
The collection is showing Saturday in New York for the third season since it premiered here during fashion week last September on an invitation from the Mercedes-Benz organizers.
Wu, founder of the brand and chief executive officer, chose to continue showing in New York rather than heading overseas to Paris or Milan for their respective show weeks. “The market in New York is more commercial than in Paris,” he said through an interpreter.
By that Wu means he’s hoping buyers who see the line will pick it up for their retail doors. Wu is hoping to enter the U.S. market next year. For now, that basically makes the New York show an expensive marketing campaign.
According to Bennet P. Tchaikovsky, chief financial officer, participating in fashion week makes sense given that VLOV is a U.S. public company and that showing the collection here “increases awareness of the brand” for retail buyers.
The firm trades over-the-counter via a reverse merger in February 2009, according to the cfo. Regulatory filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission said the company merged with Internet-based flight charter booking service Sino Charter Inc. Sino was essentially a shell company in existence for the purpose of going public.
For the year ended Dec. 31, the company reported a 7.3 percent decline in net income of $13.9 million, or $1.79 a diluted share, from $15 million, or $1.93, in 2010. Net sales rose 20.3 percent to $88.8 million from $73.8 million, according to the company’s annual report filed in a Form 10-K in April.
VLOV, which targets men between the ages of 20 and 45, has three product lines: purple label for business, black label for business casual and white label for casual. According to Wu, there are 18 company operated stores in the Fujian province. There are another 393 points-of-sale locations, such as concessions and shops-in-shop, operated through distribution agreements. Those sites include Sichuan, Beijing, Hubei and Shangdong. A number of the POS sites are in second- and third-tier cities.
According to the firm’s cfo, the company is planning on expanding next into Taiwan, with the “agreements in progress.” It’s a logical expansion for the brand, since the main operations are based in Xiamen in the Fujian province, which essentially sits on the Taiwan Strait, making Taiwan visible across the arm of the Pacific Ocean.
That’s all fine and good for a firm still essentially targeting Asian men. VLOV is an edgy, fashion-forward brand. Wu said, “The men [in China] are more fashion conscious than in the U.S.,” he added.
Whether the brand can catch on in the U.S. remains to be seen.
While Wu is considered head designer and the brand shows at Beijing’s China Fashion Week, he does work with a team of a dozen designers. The team pulls together about 3,000 stockkeeping units for two seasons each year, which it shows to distributors, who then pick and choose what to sell for each location. About 850 to 900 sku’s are typically chosen for production each year, Wu said. In a regulatory filing, distributors who have a three-year good standing relationship with the company have terms of “60 to 90 days” for payment, but new ones or those who don’t have that history pay upon receipt of orders.
Average price points range from $126 to $252 for pants, $157 to $165 for shirts and $315 to $788 for sport coats. Outerwear is higher.