Derek Lam

Derek Lam is expanding into the Chinese market, launching his own online shop this month on the luxury app Toplife, which is operated by JD.com.

Toplife was introduced in October as a luxury goods platform spanning fashion, accessories, beauty, home and electronics, launching with brands including La Perla, Emporio Armani, Rimowa, Tod’s and Trussardi. Through Toplife, brands can control every aspect of their flagship’s appearance, allowing 24-hour access to customer service and training fashion consultants to advise on luxury brands.

JD.com is China’s largest retailer with more than 266 million customers. It also has a partnership with Tencent, which operates the popular Chinese social network WeChat. All brands working with Toplife get a marketing hookup with JD.com, including strategic social media advertising on WeChat.

Although Lam is a Chinese-American designer and his brand was founded almost 15 years ago, it is little known in China. The Toplife app is Lam’s official introduction to the Chinese market. His store on Toplife will include all of his collections, including the main designer ready-to-wear and accessories collections, Derek Lam 10 Crosby and Derek Lam Denim.

“We’ve always thought of China as a huge future opportunity,” said Jan-Hendrik Schlottmann, chief executive officer of Derek Lam. “But as a medium-sized, independent company, we really focused on the U.S. market. We thought we needed to be successful here before we could be successful in other markets. Now, especially with Derek Lam collection, we’re at a level [in the U.S.] where there’s not many more stores to grow outside of the stores we’re already in.”

Schlottmann declined to discuss sales projections, but noted that JD.com has a large amount of digital consumer data with which to target specific luxury consumers through Toplife. “It’s a great way of introducing the brand to exactly the right clients,” he said. “They know where they shop, when they shop, how much they spend, where they live, and what other brands they buy. I think it’s a great moment to do this in China because of what’s happening right now [in luxury], and beforehand, all their outlets for luxury weren’t very luxurious.”

Additionally, Derek Lam relaunched its own web site, dereklam.com, with e-commerce operated by Farfetch through its service Black & White. The site was redesigned by the firm Wondersauce to reflect a more open, bold, colorful yet clean aesthetic inspired by Lam’s favorite art director Alexey Brodovitch.

Lam’s linkups with Farfetch and JD.com are not coincidental. In 2014, Sandbridge Capital took a minority stake in Derek Lam. Farfetch is also part of Sandbridge’s portfolio and earlier this year, JD.com invested $397 million in Farfetch.

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