Are Chinese brands set to make their own mark in the U.S.? On Monday, Alibaba.com Ltd. launched a business-to-business channel on the Web, which will initially showcase 30 premium Chinese brands, ranging from apparel to housewares, and make them available to retailers around the globe.
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The e-commerce site, a division of Alibaba Group, based in Hangzhou, China, went live with an area for the new products that allows retailers to purchase items from the Chinese brands through its aliexpress.com wholesale transaction platform.
The new AliExpress Premier channel, found through a link on the aliexpress.com homepage, is designed to bring attention to authentic and established Chinese products that have little exposure outside the country.
“The rationale behind it is when you talk about Chinese products, the first thing that comes to the mind of most people is they are low cost and of mediocre quality. That is the perception and stereotype,” Annie Xu, general manager of Alibaba.com and AliExpress in the U.S., said in an interview. “But in reality, in China there are more and more emerging brands and designers that offer innovative and authentic and original design, but they don’t have the means to expand their brands and products beyond the Chinese market.”
The Premier channel will give them that opportunity, Xu said. She added that the new channel could feature as many as 100 Chinese brands by the end of the year. It is geared toward retailers and wholesalers. It currently features such Chinese apparel lines as AKSeries, a men’s wear brand founded in 1993, and Rip, a women’s apparel label that is “conservation minded” and does not use animal products, as well as jewelry brands such as Mbox.
Xu said the Premier channel will give retailers a convenient way to source “top-quality” authentic Chinese-designed products.
“We think there are great companies that we can really help, not the larger companies like Macy’s or Wal-Mart, which have the resources themselves, but smaller companies that don’t have the promotional selling channels or resources in place,” said Xu.
The privately held Alibaba Group, founded in 1999 by Jack Ma, reaches Internet users in more than 240 countries and regions and its subsidiaries employ more than 2,000 people in some 70 cities, according to a company fact sheet.