Chinese Whispers: Alibaba Courts Valentino for Luxury Pavilion, and More

In “Chinese Whispers,” we share the biggest news stories about the luxury industry in China that haven’t yet made it into the English language.

In this week’s edition, we discuss:

  • Valentino‘s partnership with Alibaba,
  • Tom Ford’s first beauty store in China, and
  • Armani’s Chinese distributor divorced the brand.

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1. Alibaba signs Valentino to Luxury Pavilion, sending an AI influencer to the brand’s Tokyo show – Sohu Fashion

On November 27, Valentino became the latest luxury brand to launch an official store on Alibaba Tmall’s luxury portal Luxury Pavilion. Following the store launch, Alibaba created a buzzy marketing campaign for Valentino by hiring a high-profile AI virtual influencer on Instagram to attend the brand’s Tokyo fashion show.

The AI influencer, created by the German creative agency Optium in February this year, is named “Noonoouri,” and she has already worked with luxury brands like Gucci, Chanel, and Fendi. Noonoouri, as a formal employee of Alibaba, was tasked with live-streaming the runway show in Tokyo for Luxury Pavilion’s users.

Earlier this year, Valentino also unveiled a 3D virtual pop-up store on Luxury Pavilion to sell its Garavani Candystud collection.

Tom Ford beauty store. Photo: Shutterstock

Tom Ford beauty store. Photo: Shutterstock

2. Tom Ford ramps up its beauty business in China – Fashion Network

Last week, the American luxury brand Tom Ford opened its first independent boutique beauty store in Shanghai. The store not only offers a wide range of beauty products but aims to provide a private customized journey to shoppers. For example, consumers can book a one-on-one session with fragrance experts to discover their personal fragrance products.

China has been a fast-growing market for Tom Ford. The brand plans open a total of four boutique beauty stores in mainland China this year, Fashion Network reported.

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

3. A Chinese luxury distributor is shedding Armani assets – Jiemian  

Shenzhen Hemei Group, the parent company of Shanghai Oulan International Trade Limited which owns the distribution rights to Italian luxury brand Armani in mainland China, announced on November 28 that it will sell its Armani-related inventory and fixed assets back to the brand’s Shanghai company, for less than $30.2 million (RMB 210 million).

After the sell-off, Shanghai Oulan will no longer be involved in Armani’s operations in China. Hemei cited Armani’s poor financial performance in China as the reason for the decision. “The lower-than-expected revenues generated by Armani has jeopardized the profitability of Hemei,” the company wrote in a statement.

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