SYDNEY — David Jones is adding some extra fireworks to Sydney’s Chinese New Year celebrations.
From Feb. 11 to 18, Australia’s number-two department store chain will stage a pop-up Chinese fashion showcase in the Level 7 events space at its Elizabeth Street flagship here.
Chosen by Ordre.com, the year-old digital B2B marketplace specializing in emerging global fashion talent launched by Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia founder Simon Lock, the Lunar New Year Designer Collection will showcase 16 emerging Chinese fashion names: women’s ready-to-wear designers Helen Lee, Huishan Zhang, Jamie Wei Huang, Xiao Li, Yang Li, Qiu Hao, Jourden, Sarah Lai, Sandy Liang, Ms Min, Ryan Lo, Chictopia and Ground-Zero, with accessories from Yifang Wan, CHairEYES and HEFANG Jewelry.
Mostly educated in New York, Paris and London — eight are Central Saint Martins alumni – the group boasts five LVMH Prize finalists and one International Woolmark Prize winner (Qui Hao).
None currently sell in Australia, although some designers have already established international retail networks. The best-known, London-based Huishan Zhang, is a London Fashion Week regular and stockists include Barneys New York, Opening Ceremony, Harvey Nichols, Browns and Moda Operandi.
Donna Player, David Jones’ group executive of merchandise, said she has purchased 1,229 items from the 16 designers via Ordre.com, to retail from 349 Australian dollars, or $246 at current exchange, for a pair of CHairEYES sunglasses up to 6,000 Australian dollars, or $4,220, for a Yang Li couture gown.
“I think they do have a resonance globally — Huishan Zhang is seen on the red carpet and we’ve seen Yang Li’s and Sarah Lai’s pieces at Barneys,” Player said. “And it’s not just the Chinese customers, we’re bringing great, innovative ready-to-wear to the Australian consumer.”
David Jones’ wider Lunar New Year program includes a dedicated landing page on davidjones.com.au, a Lunar New Year gift card, Chinese lion dancers, a pop-up dumpling bar on Level 7 and promotions on the beauty floor, which regularly sees double-digit sales increases in key central business district doors at this time, according to Player.
Australian residents with Chinese ancestry account for four percent of Australia’s population and Chinese tourism is booming.
China is both Australia’s fastest-growing major source market and its most valuable tourism market, with Chinese visitor arrivals reaching a record one million in 2015, up 21.6 percent on 2014, and spending more than 7.7 billion Australian dollars, or $5.4 billion, up 43 percent according to Australian Bureau of Statistics figures.
David Jones now employs more than 200 Mandarin-speaking sales consultants, said Player, who reported a 463 percent spending increase via the China UnionPay credit card for the first quarter of fiscal 2016. David Jones introduced the card in 2013.
To launch the festivities, David Jones is cohosting a cocktail party in the Level 7 space on Feb. 10 together with the Australia-China Fashion Alliance — which is staging its own China Fashion and Retail Forum earlier that day at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum, with Vogue China editor in chief Angelica Cheung among the keynote speakers.
“The question a lot of people ask around the world is when is a Chinese designer going to make it mainstream or become famous?” said Australia-China Fashion Alliance founder Timothy Coghlan, a Beijing-based luxury retail consultant. “For David Jones to show confidence in these designers, they obviously think they are going to sell them to make money and I think that shows a tipping point for the world that Chinese designers now are on the radar of retail.”