Can Gabriela Hearst Sell Bags In A Post-Pandemic China?

What Happened: LVMH’s New York designer brand Gabriela Hearst has begun making a shift towards the China market. The brand released the first post on its official WeChat account on October 6, which introduced the brand’s story and its core values: craftsmanship, sustainability, and luxury origins. The post has received 346 views as of this publication.

The official account was registered under the subject GABRIELA HEARST LLC on August 28 this year and was officially certified on September 23. The brand’s signature Nina and Diana handbags — dubbed the “Wonton” and “Organ” handbags, respectively, in China — are two of the brand’s most popular products among local luxury shoppers.

Jing Take: In China’s social arena, Gabriela Hearst’s handbags are frequently hashtagged with terms like niche, sleek, and exclusivity, as brand offerings and access are extremely limited there. The stock of these iconic handbags is only available via email inquiry, and any purchase usually comes with a long waitlist. Gabriela Hearst’s selling model is similar to Hermès’, which relies on an elevated brand image.

But since the global luxury landscape has been heavily disrupted by the pandemic, the bridge between offerings and customer demands has changed drastically. Previous selling channels for brands, specifically Daigous (personal shoppers), can no longer connect with China’s digital shoppers. Therefore, a shift to e-commerce channels has become a new and necessary opportunity for most brands, especially since independent luxury designer rivalries have been heating up of late.

The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.