PARIS — Chloé is heading east. The French fashion house plans to unveil its resort collection in Shanghai on June 5, marking Natacha Ramsay-Levi’s first personal appearance in China since being appointed creative director in 2017, WWD has learned.
“It’s the first time Chloé is staging a catwalk show outside Paris in the history of the house,” said Geoffroy de la Bourdonnaye, chief executive officer of Chloé.
While it will also mark the first time Chloé shows a pre-collection on the runway, de la Bourdonnaye said the event was a one-off, for now. “It is not a strategy to necessarily stage a show for the pre-collection. It was more: We want to do something special in China for the Chinese Chloé girls,” he explained.
The resort season has become an important showcase for luxury brands, with houses including Chanel, Dior, Prada and Louis Vuitton staging major shows. Ramsay-Levi was in Shanghai in January to draw inspiration for the show, said de la Bourdonnaye, emphasizing that the idea originated with its local team.
“One-hundred percent of the Chloé organization in China is Chinese,” he noted.
It’s an important distinction in the wake of the recent cancellation of Dolce & Gabbana’s planned tribute to China last November, which backfired, setting off an intense backlash from celebrities, consumers and retailers alike.
The controversy began when the brand posted three videos entitled “eating with chopsticks” to its social media pages. The videos rubbed people the wrong way in China, with many in the country taking to social media to call out what they described as sexist and racist undertones.
“I’ve worked in major organizations like the Walt Disney Co. and PepsiCo, and I’ve realized working for global brands that it’s fundamental to always have power in the regions so that the cultural identities of each region are taken into account in everything you do,” de la Bourdonnaye said.
“If you only have people coming from your headquarters’ nation, you basically have a top-down communication, whereas when you have people who are locally based, who come from the region, from the local culture, you allow a two-way communication,” the executive said.
While he would not divulge figures, de la Bourdonnaye said Chinese customers account for a “very important” portion of revenues at Chloé, which is owned by Compagnie Financière Richemont.
“We are expanding faster than in other regions for one reason, which is that, first of all, we were underrepresented in China, and second, the Chinese government is really encouraging the Chinese to spend in China, as opposed to spending abroad,” de la Bourdonnaye said.
“During the last Chinese New Year week, we observed that the growth of Chinese consumption came mainly from mainland China as opposed to Chinese traveling abroad,” he added.
Luxury spending by Chinese shoppers now represents 33 percent of the global market, according to Bain & Co.
The global management consultancy reported that China’s domestic luxury goods market grew 20 percent in 2018 for the second year in a row, as a reduction in import duties and stricter government controls over the gray market led more Chinese consumers to purchase at home.
They made 27 percent of their luxury purchases in China in 2018, up from 23 percent in 2015, and Bruno Lannes, a Bain & Co. partner based in Shanghai, expects this proportion to rise to 50 percent in 2025.
Chloé on Friday reopened its boutique in the China World Mall in Beijing following renovations. It has 17 stores in the country, having recently also opened a store at the IFC mall in Shanghai, and another at the SKP department store in Xi’an last June.
“We are in 90 percent of all the major tier-one, tier-two cities in China today, but we keep evolving our network as the market in China grows,” de la Bourdonnaye said.