China News Brief
    April 30, 2024

    BMW pours $2.8B into China plant for EV push; Chanel CEO defends price hike; Pharrell Williams’ set for 3rd Louis Vuitton show.
    A BMW i4 electric vehicle is on display during the 2024 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition on April 25, 2024 in Beijing. Photo: Getty Images

    BMW pours $2.8B into China plant for EV push#

    BMW announced  on Friday it will invest 20 billion RMB ($2.8 billion) to expand a production facility in the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang, as the German auto major aims to begin assembling its upcoming “Neue Klasse” electric vehicles locally in 2026. The amount, which brings BMW’s total investment in its largest manufacturing hub to 105 billion RMB ($16.154 billion), represents an acceleration of the company’s efforts to prepare for greater EV demand in China, where domestic manufacturers continue to capture market share from their global rivals. Construction of a 10 billion RMB ($1.538 billion) battery plant in Shenyang is also underway, which is set to begin operation with 2,000 new jobs in 2026. BMW reported a 138% YoY surge in sales to nearly 100,000 EVs in China last year, which accounted for nearly a third of its total EV sales worldwide.

    Chanel CEO defends price hike#

    Chanel’s CEO, Leena Nair, defended  the luxury brand’s decision to raise the price of one of its iconic handbags to over 10,000 euros ($10,725), attributing the increase to inflation and the brand’s commitment to using exquisite raw materials and rigorous craftsmanship. The move reflects a broader trend in luxury brands adjusting prices for coveted goods, with Chanel targeting affluent customers akin to those of Hermès or Rolex. Nair emphasized Chanel’s focus on long-term quality preservation and modest growth, facilitated by its status as a privately-held company owned by the Wertheimer brothers.

    Pharrell Williams set for 3rd Louis Vuitton show#

    The schedules  for the 2025 Spring/Summer Paris Men’s Fashion Week and the 2024 Fall Haute Couture Fashion Week have been released. Paris Men’s Fashion Week, from June 18 to 21, features 37 fashion shows and 35 presentations, including Dries Van Noten’s final collection and Pharrell Williams’ third show for Louis Vuitton. Valentino and Paul Smith will be absent. Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week, from June 24 to 27, sees Thom Browne’s second haute couture collection as a guest, Balenciaga’s return, and Jean Paul Gaultier’s collaboration with Nicolas Di Felice. Maison Margiela and Valentino, with a new creative director, will temporarily miss the 2024 Fall Haute Couture Fashion Week.

    EU slaps tougher audits on China’s Shein#

    Starting in late August, the European Commission will impose  stricter rules on Shein, the Chinese fashion app, regarding content moderation on its platform. With an average monthly European user base of 108 million, Shein will face detailed audits and risk assessments to address issues like counterfeit goods. Classified as a “very large online platform,” Shein could face fines of up to 6% of its global annual revenue for non-compliance. Despite controversies such as allegations of forced labor in China’s Xinjiang region, Shein expresses commitment to transparency and accountability in line with the Digital Services Act principles.

    New Hang Lung head eyes China#

    The board of directors of Hong Kong property developer Hang Lung Group announced  on April 26 that Chan Chi-chung will step down from his positions as chairman of the group, executive director, and chairman of the executive committee, to be succeeded by his son Adriel Wenbo Chan. Wenbo Chan said the group will focus its development efforts on mainland China, particularly in the high-end retail sector. Currently, 70% of the group’s assets are in mainland China, and it is believed that they will continue to grow in the future, with the management team seizing market opportunities.

    AMI pays tribute to love with bag drop#

    To mark 520 Day in China, one of the country’s several annual occasions centered on romance, AMI launched  a new light purple Paris Paris handbag, paying tribute to the budding love of the younger generation. This is also the third consecutive year that AMI has released a 520 Day limited edition. The handbag is crafted from grainy cowhide leather, adorned with the brand’s Ami de Cœur golden heart clasp, and complemented by handles and adjustable shoulder straps.

    Thom Browne suits up for 520 Day#

    Thom Browne presents  a series of 520 Day-themed images set in an office scene. The collection features classic gray herringbone suits, navy blue knit suits, color-blocked knit suits, various striped bags, as well as navy blue and classic white casual sneakers.

    Estée Lauder, Microsoft launch beauty AI innovation lab#

    Estée Lauder Group recently announced  a partnership with Microsoft to establish an AI-focused Innovation Lab, expanding their global relationship. The partners will utilize advanced generative AI capabilities from Microsoft Azure OpenAI services to develop solutions aimed at enhancing the capabilities of over 20 renowned beauty brands under the group, including Clinique and Estée Lauder. Additionally, ongoing projects include an internal chatbot to help brands quickly extract authorized product statements for more efficient marketing campaigns to adapt to emerging localized trends.