Look For Diffusion Lines, Affordable Luxury To Win This Year
Following the grand opening of its first Hong Kong flagship exclusively for watches and jewelry in February, Giorgio Armani diffusion line Emporio Armani is setting its eyes on the Mainland. Launched in 1997 and 2002, respectively, Emporio Armani’s watch and jewelry lines lean towards the high-end, yet affordable ready-to-wear, putting them in good company among Queen’s Road neighbors like Chow Tai Fook at Manning House, right in the heart of Central. According to Chinese-language media, the brand’s new Hong Kong store is only the beginning of what has the potential to be a major rollout, with Emporio Armani expected to open its next watches and jewelry flagship in Shanghai at an as-yet-undisclosed date.
Considering the current state of China’s high-end market, however, sooner would be smarter than later. As Jing Daily has previously noted, “affordable luxury” is the segment to watch in mainland China this year. With brands at the very top end of the market (e.g., Gucci and Dior) holding back on expansion efforts this year in China, instead holding more low-key events and trending towards the logo-less or logo-lite amid a damper environment for conspicuous consumption, mid-range brands are swooping in to cater to still-strong (and growing) demand from China’s urban middle class.
Emporio Armani fits comfortably into this segment, price- and image-wise, and — like other accessible brands such as Michael Kors, Coach, DKNY, Paul Smith, Rebecca Minkoff, and Karen Millen – has a real opportunity to grow in the Mainland this year. (Particularly its watches and jewelry lines.)
The advantage for its watches and jewelry collections is that Armani is far from an unknown entity in Greater China, and has been increasingly active in both mainland China and Hong Kong. Despite mixed successes like last year’s “Armani Tweet Talks” — aimed at a country in which Twitter is blocked — the fashion house is bullish on its long-term prospects, with plans to open 50 to 60 new stores in China by 2014.
In Hong Kong, Armani has also boosted brand exposure through recent events like a recent star-studded and high-profile cocktail party, celebrating a new store opening in Tsim Sha Tsui and a private Eccentrico Exhibition, which displayed 51 couture pieces from the Giorgio Armani and Giorgio Armani Privé collections.