David Beckham Bets on China’s Love for British Heritage with ‘New Vision’ for Kent & Curwen

Creative director Daniel Kearns and business partner David Beckham brought their new vision for British heritage brand Kent & Curwen to China on Tuesday, with an evening of cocktails and an immersive presentation at The Waterhouse at South Bund, Shanghai.

Since announcing the collaboration with David Beckham in 2015, the partnership has made no secret of having their sights set on the Chinese market, and the launch event saw special guests including actor and London Fashion Week ambassador Hu Bing, and actors Yuan Hong, Wesley Wong, and Alex Fong joining Beckham and Kearns in a ‘pop-up pub’ to celebrate the quintessential British heritage of the brand.

From left to right: Alex Fong, Wesley Wong, Hong Yuan, David Beckham, and Daniel Kearn at the Kent & Curwen collection launch in Shanghai. (Courtesy Photo)

From left to right: Alex Fong, Wesley Wong, Hong Yuan, David Beckham, and Daniel Kearn at the Kent & Curwen collection launch in Shanghai. (Courtesy Photo)

With British brands growing increasingly concerned about remaining independently popular with the Chinese market post-Brexit, Kent & Curwen is purposefully reaching out to the Chinese consumer in partnership with David Beckham. David Beckham’s appeal to the Chinese market is in no small part due to his lifetime of soccer stardom, and the event attracted huge crowds outside the venue, with Beckham pleasing guests by explaining, “I love Shanghai. I’ve been here so many times now Shanghai is like my second home.”

“We are here to show Shanghai a new vision for this great brand,” Kearns said. “British style is due an update. We are offering a wardrobe that feels authentic, yet interesting, embracing the heritage of Kent & Curwen in a more creative fashion.” The brand, that begun in London in 1926, first made its name with neck attire, supplying ties to universities such as Oxford and Cambridge, the finest clubs in London, the country’s best schools, and British regiments throughout the Empire.

David Beckham's Kent & Curwen collection launch debuted in Shanghai earlier this week. (Courtesy Photo)

David Beckham’s Kent & Curwen collection launch debuted in Shanghai earlier this week. (Courtesy Photo)

Now, David Beckham, who is involved in all aspects of the Kent & Curwen business, including product development, market expansion, advertising, and store aesthetic, stressed the importance of re-launching Kent & Curwen as a “multi-generational brand”, explaining, “This is a project that is close to my heart because it authentically combines old British heritage with contemporary style.”

Invited guests at the event previewed the first full collection by Kent & Curwen and David Beckham AW17/18, available in Kent & Curwen stores across China from August. The collection combines British heritage and odes to the classic hallmarks of British sporting pastimes, including varsity blazers, and military jackets, with a re-imagined contemporary finish, inspired by Beckham’s own style.

The "new vision" for the British brand combines heritage with contemporary looks. (Courtesy Photo)

The “new vision” for the British brand combines heritage with contemporary looks. (Courtesy Photo)

The release of the brand in China sees Shanghai chosen as one of only three locations for the global launch, along with London and New York. To commemorate the occasion, a specially commissioned Shanghai Club capsule collection was also on display at the event, containing wearable blazers, polo shirts, and sweatshirts, available at an exclusive pop-up shop at Lane Crawford from May 11.

In “How to Impress China’s Mass Affluent Males,” Jing Daily x Carat took a closer look at China’s “mass affluent class” or M.A.C., males, and found that, although men in this group are less likely to be influenced by direct online advertising, they find the greatest affinity with live sports programs and videos, tying into Kent and Curwen’s desire to lure China’s affluent male consumers with trends like soccer, athleisure, polo, and golf. Many of these male consumers were also found to highly value craftsmanship and heritage.

The Shanghai Club capsule, markedly more casual in design than the rest of the collection, features garments bearing the iconic Three Lions and English rose logo, in a re-imagined style that combines recognizable British heritage with a more modern lifestyle brand. Kearns explained, “Kent & Curwen is a jewel of British menswear reborn for the 21st century. Kent & Curwen is responsible for inventing the British sporting style today, and it’s now important to re-imagine that style for a modern market.”

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