From Coach’s e-commerce aspirations to new flagships by Shang Xia, Piaget, Longchamp, Canali and more, here’s a selection of recent luxury updates from the China market.
Following recent entrants to China’s fast-growing — yet crowded and largely untested — e-commerce market, among them Ferragamo, Zara, J. Crew, and Yoox, American “affordable luxury” brand Coach is set to launch its long-discussed e-commerce site in China by the end of the year.
First announced this past winter to be rolled out “within the next 18 months,” Coach is building the new site in-house, rather than pairing with a Chinese or international multi-brand online retailer.
With China’s luxury goods market now well-established as a leading global player, the country continues to see the growing presence of top international brands promoting their names while simultaneously investing in local trends.
Beyond simply looking to appeal to Chinese shoppers by flogging the same items found in Paris or New York, however, some brands are putting more of an emphasis on looking to the past to uncover and repurpose traditional aspects of Chinese culture and strike a deeper chord with China’s rapidly evolving high-end consumers.
Swiss watchmaker and jeweler Piaget recently pulled out all the stops for the grand opening of its new Asia flagship boutique at the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, throwing a blowout gala attended by 160 execs, local celebrities and VIPs.
Co-hosted by Piaget CEO Philippe Léopold-Metzger and Dimitri Gouten, President of Piaget Asia-Pacific, the event kicked off with a cocktail reception at the 5,000 square foot store, during which guests had a chance to preview the new Couture Précieuse collection, recently unveiled at the Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris.
While other Swiss luxury watchmakers play the waiting game in China, hoping for a significant sales rebound within the country in 2013, Swatch-owned, Vallée de Joux-based Breguet seems confident that demand at the ultra-high-end remains strong.
Despite intensified scrutiny among the government in Beijing and eagle-eyed Weibo users alike, Breguet recently chose political power center Beijing to launch two new boutiques in close proximity to one another, the manufacturer’s fourth and fifth free-standing locations in China.
Luxury shoemaker Fratelli Rossetti is giving audiences outside of Italy a glimpse of its footwear “museum” for the first time.
Presenting archival pieces from the brand’s inception through the present day, the exhibitions include everything from the first sporting shoes created by Renzo Rossetti after World War II to the introduction of brand trademarks like tassels, the sockless yacht shoe, and the “mannish” style. (The latter of which president Diego Rossetti said are his favorite pieces in the exhibitions.)
Recently, French fashion house Roger Vivier– creator of the Stiletto heel — opened its third mainland China location at Shenyang’s Mall Forum 66, shortly after unveiling its Beijing Yintai Centre flagship and two years after entering the market with an inaugural Shanghai flagship at Plaza 66.
Speckled with high-profile guests like popular fashion blogger Han Huohuo in Shenyang, and actress Zhao Wei and supermodel Du Juan in Beijing, Vivier’s grand openings have ensured a great deal of exposure on Sina Weibo.
Having built up a strong presence since entering Hong Kong back in 1979, this week the French leather and luxury goods maker Longchamp launches its eighth — and by far its largest — location in the city, “La Maison Canton Road.” Located on bustling Canton Road in Kowloon, the 3,767 square foot location will comprise three floors, designed by architect Eric Carlson and consistent with the Longchamp global store concept originally rolled out in 2010.
Swathed in a more than 2,000 square foot glass facade, the Maison is bathed in natural light, which floods sections dedicated to accessories, ready-to-wear womenswear and footwear.
Coming at the tail end of Shanghai Fashion Week and overlapping with Fashion Week in Beijing, recently Hong Kong’s I.T Group — owner of titular multi-brand boutiques I.T and i.t, as well as independent labels Izzue and b+ab — celebrated 10 years in the mainland China market with a runway show in Shanghai.
Held at Taipingqiao Park in Xintiandi, the event was packed with company execs, local and Hong Kong celebrities, and artists, among them I.T Group president Shen Jiawei, actress Zhou Xun, Hong Kong actor/performer Shawn Yue, and former Miss World, Zhang Zilin.
This week, Italian menswear brand Canali cut the ribbon on its newest Beijing flagship at Seasons Place in Beijing. Attended by three members of the Canali family, Group GM Stefano Canali, Global Commercial Director Paolo Canali, and Global Communications Director Elisabetta Canali, the grand opening event attracted 200 VIPs including actor Huang Xiaoming.
Following the unveiling of the boutique, guests took part in an elaborate event at 798 D-Park, entitled “Unveiling Tradition,” a three-act performance illustrating the story of the 78-year-old brand’s past, present and future.
PPR-owned Italian menswear and accessories brand Brioni still sees gold in China’s evolving luxury market, having nearly doubled its locations in the country over the course of this year.
Coming on the heels of its grand openings in Wuhan, Guangzhou, Shenyang and Hangzhou earlier this year, Brioni opened two new locations this week in Beijing and Suzhou, bringing the total Brioni monobrand locations in mainland China up to 14.
Much like larger British peer Burberry, whose recent slowdown sent shivers down the spine of the luxury sector, a profit warning posted this week by leather goods maker Mulberry has created a similar sensational buzz. Mulberry shares slid as much as 29 percent to 940 pence, the brand’s steepest decline since 1998.
While Mulberry blames a four percent decline in wholesale shipments and lower-than-expected international sales, especially in China, for its recent woes, this purveyor — which has taken great pains in recent years to position itself in the luxury segment — may have to look inwards for the real reason for its recent misfortunes. This is particularly true in regards to its scapegoating of the Asia market in general and China market in particular.
Following five years of blistering growth, Ermenegildo Zegna — one of the first high-end international fashion brands to enter China, having opened its first store there in 1991 — is adjusting profit forecasts amid an overall slowing in the market this year.
Though Chief Executive Gildo Zegna said earlier this year that rising demand in second- and third-tier inland Chinese cities would get it through a broader slowdown in its most critical market, Zegna’s expectations for China this year sit at a little over 10 percent growth, far below last year’s 30 percent.