LONDON — British high-end footwear designer Rupert Sanderson is making inroads in China, tweaking his brand’s DNA to suit the local market.
Late last month, Sanderson unveiled a fourth store in the region, a 700-square-foot space at the Harbour City mall in Hong Kong.
The unit will be the brand’s third stand-alone store in Hong Kong; the two others are in the Elements mall, on the Kowloon peninsula, and at No. 8 On Lan Street.
In May, Sanderson opened his first mainland Chinese flagship in the Shanghai IFC mall. The 2,160-square-foot store is his biggest ever. All of the stores have similar interior features, including slatted wood and the brand’s signature pebble-shaped motif for door handles, tables and lighting.
Sanderson has been focusing on China for the past four years, working with franchise partner Bertrand Mak and fine-tuning his product for the market.
“Rather than overlaying a European-focused brand message, we’re adapting product specifically to the market,” the designer said. “And the Chinese tend to be more interested in craft and provenance rather than the changes that drive fashion. So far, it’s worked well.”
Sanderson said that about 60 percent of his offer in China comes from the seasonal collection, with the remainder favorites from earlier seasons, and styles that have been adapted specifically for the market, such as footwear with gold leafing on the heels. All of the footwear is made at Sanderson’s factories in Italy.
“We’re building a brand from the inside out rather than proscribing a European view,” he said, adding that “brand signifiers” are important to the Chinese. “Manolo [Blahnik] has the jeweled buckle, Roger Vivier has the pilgrim buckle. We are known for the gold leaf.”
To mark the opening, Sanderson designed an exclusive style called Nella for the Harbour City store. It is offered in more than 10 variations.
The signature gold heel and new “splatter” gold pebble motif are also on offer. Sanderson has also begun making special Asian lasts.
There will be further expansion in China. Next year, there are plans to open a Hong Kong flagship.