American fashion designer Derek Lam has made his products available in China for the first time by launching a store on the high-end e-commerce platform Toplife, which is powered by JD.com. The store will carry women’s ready-to-wear and footwear collections from two product lines, including Derek Lam 10 Crosby and Derek Lam Denim.
For the 15-year-old designer brand, the move to China is not a great surprise. Derek Lam is backed by investment group Sandbridge Capital, whose portfolio also includes brands like Thom Browne, which is aggressively opening new retail stores in China, and Karl Lagerfeld China, the majority of which was acquired by a Chinese company. Sandbridge’s Founding Managing Partner, Joseph Lamastra, is a firm believer in the potential of Asian markets, mentioning in previous interviews that the ability to grow globally, especially in China, is absolutely key to designer brands’ future success.
While high-end brands like La Perla, Emporio Armani, Rimowa, Tod’s, and Hogan have already launched on Toplife, Derek Lam is one of the first designer brands with little previous experience in the China market to choose Toplife.
Toplife, a direct competitor with Alibaba’s Luxury Pavilion, focuses on the luxury market, providing high end customer service, and comprehensive supply chain management. It provides consumers with a personal fashion consultant and 24/7 customer service.
Unlike Luxury Pavilion, which is an invite-only system for high-end shoppers, Toplife is open to the public. On top of that, because JD.com has a partnership with social media behemoth WeChat, a lesser-known designer brand like Derek Lam can more quickly capture the attention of Chinese shoppers.
This partnership with Derek Lam also signals JD’s ambition to recruit more Western designer brands entering China. JD has been highly involved in foreign fashion shows since 2015, first partnering with Milan Fashion Week to debut an “Italian Fashion mall” on the site, and sponsoring designer brand 3.1 Phillip Lim for its New York fashion week show. In 2017, JD signed a partnership with the British Fashion Council and Vogue Designer Fashion Fund to support upcoming designers.