China’s Fashion-Forward Embrace “Low-Key Luxury” Eyewear

Multi-Brand Boutiques, Independent Designers Meeting Niche Demand

Coterie, Shanghai (Image: Nuandao)

A population of well over 1.3 billion, one of the world’s fastest-growing luxury markets, and a well-publicized “myopia epidemic“: for high-end eyewear brands and designers, China looks like a slam dunk. Driven by the same factors as the multi-brand boutique trend now sweeping through China’s fashion industry, recent years have seen rising interest for luxury eyeglasses as wealthier Chinese consumers have looked to match their expensive apparel with equally pricey eyewear.

This has been good for designers focused on the Asia market, both within China and overseas, with the likes of home-grown designer Chair Yuan and London-based Fei Wang (Jing Daily interview) creating wearable fashions that sell at a premium.

Luxury eyewear boutiques have also been quick to latch on to burgeoning demand. Of these boutiques, one of the most promising is Coterie, which opened its first location last year on Shanghai’s fashionable Julu Lu and second at Nali Patio in Beijing’s Sanlitun neighborhood. Minimalist and airy, the new Beijing store caters to the city’s niche consumer, stocking a range of brands from Asia and further afield, including Prism, Isson, Shuron, Graz, Neighborhood, LGR, Thierry Larsy, Chrome Hearts, Henry Holland, Linda Farrow and Alexander Wang.

Coterie has, despite its young age, been smart in its marketing efforts, gaining notoriety via word-of-mouth and Sina Weibo, and has linked up with leading fashion photographer Chen Man (Jing Daily interview) for an ad campaign.

Coterie Shanghai (Image: Shanghai Collected)

As with several of China’s up-and-coming indie fashion boutiques, the establishment of Coterie was led not necessarily by consumer demand itself but by co-founder David’s frustration with his inability to find a decent pair of higher-end (yet low-key) glasses in label-mad China. As David told the site Nuandao:

The difference [in our store] is the difference in defining luxury: Luxury to us is all about history, heritage, craftsmanship, design, materials. But not ONLY about logos. All the brands we pick are expertise in luxury eyewear, but not a big name trying to sell ALSO eyewear. They are original in design, they do not emphasize on logo but more the brand story and craftsmanship.

Look for the growing interest in low-key luxury eyewear to continue to continue in line with that of low-key luxury apparel, particularly among China’s younger, often overseas-educated, white-collar professionals with an eye for brands off the beaten path.

Coterie Shanghai
No. 741-9, Julu Lu
Jing’an District, Shanghai 200040
Tel: +021 5403 8808

Coterie Beijing
Shop D109, Nali Patio, 81 Sanlitun North Road
Chaoyang District, Beijing 100027
Tel: +010 5208 6065

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