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SHANGHAI — Kenzo creative directors Humberto Leon and Carol Lim were here Friday for the launch of a new Kenzo store.
This story first appeared in the October 30, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Located in the newly opened L’Avenue mall in the city’s western district of Hongqiao, the 2,500-square-foot store is the brand’s seventh point of sale in China’s financial capital.
Though they weren’t specific about plans for expansion in China, the designers believe there is plenty of potential for the brand in the world’s biggest luxury market.
“Currently there are 100 stores globally, and obviously China’s a huge market, so we’ve taken the first step, but we would certainly expect it to grow significantly from here,” Leon said.
“We don’t have definitive numbers, but I think this is just the tip of the iceberg,” Lim added. “Kenzo is a lifestyle brand, and there’s a lot of room for us to grow through home, kids, furniture — many different formats still to explore.”
L’Avenue is a joint venture between LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s real estate arm, L Real Estate, and Hong Kong real estate developer Stanley Ho. It’s populated with some of LVMH’s leading brands, including Louis Vuitton, Dior, Fendi, Céline and, now, Kenzo.
As the Chinese market develops and Chinese consumers begin to expand their brand repertoire beyond their long-beloved established brands, Lim and Leon believe this is the time for Kenzo to make its mark on the Middle Kingdom.
“The Internet has made the world smaller, and while previously the storytelling was dominated by these big luxury brands, people here now see what people are wearing in New York or L.A., and these people are not afraid to make [independent] choices now. That’s why it’s so exciting to be here. We can be a part of this brand with so much history, and now we see [a new generation] wearing the brand,” Lim said.
Kenzo’s link with Japan, as the birthplace of the brand’s founder Kenzo Takada, has helped drive its popularity in that market, and the label’s current creative directors believe their Asian links will also help the brand across the region, including in China.
“I think that it’s super exciting for Kenzo to be re-embraced by Asia — China, Japan and Korea. For us [Takada] is really one of those designers, one of the first Asians to break into the Parisian fashion scene, and it’s exciting for us to tell the story for him now through this generation and have it told through our eyes,” Leon said.
In fact, the pair seem a little surprised, though obviously happy with the way the brand’s famously flamboyant prints have been picked up by young Chinese consumers who have jumped feet first into wearing the brand’s cloud patterns and graphic eye motifs from head to toe.
“Whereas I think certain things take time to make it here, we have had an immediate response from people who want to be part of the community, they want to be part of the brand and the prints,” Lim explained.
As for Lim and Leon’s other fashion baby, Opening Ceremony, they say their long-awaited further international expansion is still in the works; it’s just a matter of finding the right places in which to open.
“China is one possibility,” Leon said.