Chanel Looking “50 Years” Ahead In China

Recent Comments Emphasize Company’s Long-Term China Strategy

Karl Lagerfeld with models in looks from the Chanel Resort 2014 collection. (Women's Wear Daily)

Karl Lagerfeld with models in looks from the Chanel Resort 2014 collection. (Women’s Wear Daily)

The importance of Asia’s fashion market was front and center Thursday night as Chanel presented its 2014 resort collection in Singapore. Bruno Pavlovsky, president of Chanel fashion, told Women’s Wear Daily that Asia as a whole provides the label with ample “space to grow,” while China is the focus of a long-term, slow growth strategy for the company. He noted that Chanel is not in a rush to open stores, and that he is confident that the brand is “number one in ready-to-weary luxury sales in China.” His full comments are below:

Pressed about China, where slowing growth has been coupled with a government-driven clampdown on conspicuous consumption, he said that any blip would not affect Chanel’s bid to “still be there in 50 years.”

“China is a new business for us and we only have 10 boutiques there,” he said, adding that Chanel had only begun opening stores in second-tier cities like Shenyang in the last two years.

The executive said that the fashion house would be moving to encourage customers who had become familiar with the brand through accessories to purchase clothing, which typically commands higher prices. “We have a fashion spirit and don’t want to sell only accessories,” he said. “So we are communicating [reasons to purchase] ready-to-wear to customers. It is a bit more expensive, but there are a lot of people in China who can afford it.”

“I cannot communicate any figures,” he added, “but I am sure we are [already] number one in ready-to-wear luxury sales in China.”

This long-range thinking reiterates what Chanel Global CEO Maureen Chiquet previously expressed in a January talk at Asia Society about the company’s China plans. She said at the time:

“We don’t have the urgency to expand. We are an exclusive brand and we want to stay exclusive so it’s strategic to not be everywhere. What we are starting to learn is that like every developed market, the clients there want things other people can’t get. That’s what defines luxury in many ways so we’ve been careful, but in a very calculated way.”

Like Chanel, luxury fashion label Dior is pursuing similar slow growth strategy that involves a limited number of store openings and a focus on the high end of the luxury market.

Some looks from the runway show are included below (all photos from Women’s Wear Daily):

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