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LONDON — Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com is increasing its investment in London fashion, inking a three-year strategic partnership with the British Fashion Council. JD.com has also been named the exclusive Chinese retail partner of London Fashion Week, WWD has learned.

An announcement is expected today.

The new partnership shows the fashion relationship between China and the U.K. entering a new phase. JD.com and the BFC have partnered on the BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund since September 2017 to support up-and-coming designers and introduce them to the Chinese market.

The BFC and JD have also teamed on men’s wear. As reported, last October JD.com and textile conglomerate Shandong Ruyi revealed plans to support the BFC/GQ Men’s Wear Designer Fund. The announcement was made during an event in Shanghai, attended by BFC ambassador David Beckham.

For Victor Hu, president of fashion and lifestyle at JD.com, forging closer ties with the BFC was a natural move.

“In recent years, we’ve seen emerging international designers being warmly welcomed in China, while Chinese brands and designers are gaining recognition and popularity outside of China. We saw a need for a powerful and trusted platform to facilitate cultural and resource exchange,” Hu said in an exclusive interview.

Supporting emerging fashion talent will be a key focus of the sponsorship, Hu added.

“We remain committed to supporting talented designers from around the world. This includes Chinese designers, whether in China or overseas. We are able to leverage our immense resources to provide them with comprehensive support, from smart, data-driven marketing to accessing opportunities to participate in fashion shows, and through working with professional institutes such as BFC, CFDA and AFAA,” he said.

JD also plans to leverage its resources and capabilities to introduce British fashion brands and international up-and-coming designers to Chinese consumers.

“Chinese consumers are increasingly looking for brands that will help them to express their individual style. British fashion has become popular among Chinese consumers and we will continue to bring leading brands to our consumer base by working with the BFC and directly with brands,” Hu said.

JD has added several British fashion brands to its offering, including Stella McCartney, Gieves & Hawkes, Kent & Curwen, Alexander McQueen and Mulberry.

Caroline Rush, chief executive officer of the BFC, said “The way JD.com Inc. operates is a great example of how a retail giant can support the most creative and innovative designers, which in turn will lead to longer-term collaborations.”

She added that Hu and Xia Ding, who is president of JD international fashion and head of the luxury platform Toplife, “have been extremely supportive of our efforts to help British designers navigate an often difficult to penetrate Chinese market. We look forward to working with JD.com Inc. more in 2019.”

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