LONDON — “China’s consumers are getting more and more sophisticated. In the past, people wore big brands from head to toe, but they are now looking for individuality,” said Xia Ding, president of JD Fashion, shortly before revealing a tie-up with the British Fashion Council on Monday evening.
“That’s the reason we chose London — it’s a place where we can partner with a lot of up-and-coming designers and we think their products can become really popular in China. It’s one world right now, it’s not East versus West,” she told WWD.
On Monday, Chinese online retailer JD.com and the BFC confirmed a partnership to support the BFC/Vogue Fashion Fund initiative, an annual competition that provides mentorship and financial support for London’s emerging talent.
The tie-up sees the retailer supporting young British designers taking part in the Fashion Fund program by enabling them to enter the $80 billion Chinese market and to develop their retail footprint. The partnership comes at the right time, Ding said, as Chinese consumers are losing their appetite for big names and logos, and showing increasing interest in British fashion.
JD Fashion was launched by the retailer last year with the aim of introducing leading luxury fashion brands to China. Ding said the company aims to act as a bridge between young designers and the Chinese customer, helping them to offer the level of luxury they require.
“When it comes to luxury, the Chinese consumer is very specific and getting into China can be complicated. We can play a role in navigating the market differences,” she said.
To mark the beginning of the partnership, JD Fashion sponsored the runway shows for Mary Katrantzou and Huishan Zhang.
Caroline Rush, chief executive officer of the BFC, added that JD.com’s zero-tolerance policy toward counterfeit goods makes the retailer the right partner for British brands looking to enter the Chinese market: “JD.com is a company that is known for protecting its brands against counterfeits, something very important as we need to make sure that the creativity and excellence of our designers are protected.”
Ding added that similar initiatives in Milan and Paris could be in the works in upcoming seasons. “I think it’s a level of investment we can afford. It’s a fair amount, it’s not small and it shows our commitment to becoming relevant in the fashion industry — I signed the check, I think it was the right thing to do,” she said, although she would not disclose how much JD was splashing out on the London partnership.
As reported in June, JD.com made a $397 million investment in Farfetch in order to enhance its efforts around luxury brands in China. Saint Laurent is among the first luxury brands to benefit from the deal. The Kering-owned label will integrate the collections from its stores in China onto the Farfetch platform, becoming the first luxury brand to offer 90-minute delivery in China via Farfetch to customers in Shanghai and Beijing, followed by Hong Kong.