When billion-dollar Chinese clothing brand Bosideng decided to expand into the UK with the objective of appealing to European customers, it hired British designers to create clothes with an aesthetic that is markedly different from the down coats for which it is known in China. In a recent change of branding strategy, the company announced that it will now use Chinese designers for its UK line, which some believe will help it to capitalize more on its Chinese heritage.
The company announced last month that it will be removing its UK designers and manufacturers and replacing them with its China team in order to infuse its UK clothing with more Chinese elements. “While foreign designers have helped us thoroughly learn the overseas trends and market, we think the Chinese design team is more suited to realize this projection,” said a statement by the company.
While still relatively unknown in the West, the enormous Chinese company is well-known in China for its puffy down jackets. When it opened up its first London flagship in 2012, it enlisted Nick Holland and Ash Gangotra, who previously worked with former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher and his label, Pretty Green, to design its separate new collection for the UK market.
Some analysts believe that the switch is aimed at cutting costs after the company announced that it expects a low double-digit decline in revenue for the year ending March 31 after seeing slower sales in China. Meanwhile, others say that Bosideng has struggled to distinguish itself in the UK market after entering with little brand recognition. According to analyst Yan Qiang, a partner with Beijing-based Hejun Consulting, “there are many comparable local brands to compete with” in London when it comes to the type of medium- and high-end menswear sold by the company.
The brand’s decision to tap into its Chinese heritage may help it stand out against the competition, and some Chinese commentators are saying that the switch is a sign of the global rise of Chinese design. According to an op-ed infused with discussion of Bosideng’s staff changes in relation to the “Chinese Dream” in state-run China Daily,
Bosideng’s strategic brand rethink appears to be the first example, hopefully of many more to come, of a Chinese company heeding President Xi’s Chinese Dream. Far from lacking in lucidity, Bosideng’s commitment to a more “Chinese” luxury clothing brand represents a new-found belief, ambition as well as creativity that could lead to bold branding initiatives by more and more Chinese companies. Initiatives that place a brand image based on “Chinese culture and history” should be the center of any brand building process.
In addition to its UK expansion, Bosideng also moved into the United States in February with a new pop-up store in New York City. Operated by a separate promotional team, the U.S. location emphasizes Chinese heritage of the company by displaying the Chinese characters of the company’s name and using the work of a Chinese photographer as part of a marketing campaign. It is unclear what effect the UK change will have on the American business, but Racked LA recently reported that plans for an LA pop-up have been shelved for the moment.