View Slideshow

MILAN — Giorgio Armani SpA has launched an Emporio Armani online store in China, becoming the first western fashion brand to open an official e-commerce site in the country, according to those involved in the project. The site, emporioarmani.cn, is powered by Italian online retailer Yoox.

This story first appeared in the November 29, 2010 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Giorgio Armani said the growing importance of the Chinese online market prompted him to launch the site, which was unveiled Friday. The company “identified a significant group of fashion consumers who will certainly appreciate this new approach to shopping, one that becomes more popular every day,” the designer said.

In addition to Emporio collections for men and for women, the store will also carry the EA7 sports line, a selection of the Armani Jeans collections, accessories, watches, eyewear and jewelry.

The site will be entirely adapted to the market in terms of language and customer care, size conversions, payment systems and currency. There also will be specifically branded bags and packaging.

“Our relationship with Emporio Armani has grown since 2007 when we launched their online flagship store in the U.S., followed in 2008 by the EU and Japan in 2009,” said Federico Marchetti, chairman and founder of Yoox. “This exciting new chapter in China is the result of our two teams working in tandem for almost a year to be the first to enter the world’s biggest e-commerce market.”

This online retail project was specifically developed for China and includes technology and interface design. Yoox has set up a Chinese subsidiary, which it controls, with an office and a logistics center in Shanghai, equipped with digital production studios for cataloguing activities and photographic services, in charge of all related Web management and marketing.

Armani’s 2009 sales totaled 1.5 billion euros, or $2.09 billion at average exchange for the period. Revenue in China jumped 32 percent last year, when the company explored second- and third-tier cities and made retail statements in Shanghai and Beijing. The Italian house predicts future growth in the country for the current year.

Yoox, which is listed on the Milan Stock Exchange, manages 23 e-commerce sites for designer brands such as Marni, Roberto Cavalli, Valentino, Alberta Ferretti and Pucci. In the first nine months of the year, sales rose 41.2 percent to 150.8 million euros, or $199 million at average exchange.

The company also has a multibrand division, which comprises the Yoox.com and Thecorner.com online stores. The latter will be launched in China by the end of 2011, followed by Yoox.com in 2012.

Referring to China, Marchetti told WWD earlier this month that the company “intends to extend its existing working partnerships with some of the most prestigious fashion and luxury brands in the world, adopting a full-price strategy and a high-end positioning in the market.”

View Slideshow