China’s Profile Grows From Insignificant To Industry Driver Within 10 Years
This week, the Chinese site Fashion & Beauty takes a look back at the last decade in the Chinese luxury market, illustrating how quickly it’s come so far. With major brands opening new, increasingly lavish, flagships on a regular basis, it’s easy to forget that China was a virtual blank slate 10 years ago, and that the market at that time was far more challenging than it is today. Considering the country’s GDP in 2000 was around a fifth of its current size, and that breakneck economic growth didn’t really take off until the country’s WTO ascension in 2001, this isn’t terribly surprising.
From Fashion & Beauty‘s timeline (translation by Jing Daily team):
2000: Shanghai Tang – In 1994, David Tang opened the first Shanghai Tang in Hong Kong. In 2000, the brand was acquired by the French luxury house Richemont, making it the first Chinese luxury brand to enter international markets. As Western fashion swept into China, Shanghai Tang offered Chinese-style international style, leading to thousands of women again wearing qipao to important occasions. Shanghai Tang’s success saw it expand around the world in the last 10 years, with the company now operating around 40 locations.
2000: Versace’s Arrival in China – Within 10 years of Gianni Versace’s assassination, the legendary brand he created finally entered China. Although the brand came a bit late, since China already had plenty of luxury brands by 2000, it occupied an important market niche.
2000: Vacheron Constantin Enters China – One of the top Swiss watch brands in the eyes of Chinese consumers, in 2000 Vacheron Constantin opened its first specialized boutique in China on Beijing’s Wangfujing street.
2001: Tiffany & Co. Opens its First Store in Beijing – Although Tiffany didn’t officially get to China until 2001, the brand’s association with Audrey Hepburn made it an instant hit among Chinese women who looked to emulate the late star’s style.
April 2004: Giorgio Armani’s First Trip to China – Giorgio Armani arrived in Beijing for his first trip to China, heading next to Shanghai to open the 1100 square meter Armani flagship there. From there it was off to Hong Kong for the fall/winter fashion show.
May 2004: Cartier Exhibition at the Shanghai Museum – Cartier held its two-month-long “Cartier Art Treasures” exhibition at the Shanghai Museum beginning in May 2004. The exhibition showcased many rare pieces from the Cartier collection as well as some treasures borrowed from private collectors. This marked the first time some of these items had been shown to the public. The popularity of this exhibition saw Cartier’s brand awareness in China skyrocket.
September 2004: Richemont Group’s “Watch Wonders” Exhibition in Beijing – Attended by Richemont representative Franco Cologni, this exhibition let the public see how master enamel craftsmen, sculptors and stone setters did their job up close and personal, greatly boosting the reputation of Richemont’s watch brands.
2005: Patek Phillipe’s First Specialized Store Opens in Shanghai – Although this wasn’t the first time Patek Phillipe entered the China market, having had a presence here a century ago, the brand didn’t officially “re-enter” the market until September 2005, when it opened its specialized boutique at Bund 18. After Geneva and Paris, the Shanghai location was only the third in the world.
2005: Valentino Pops In – In 2005, Valentino opened its first China location at Beijing’s Oriental Plaza, giving the public its first glimpse at this national treasure of Italy.
May 2005: Prada’s “Waist Down” Exhibition – After its debut in Tokyo, the second leg of Prada’s “Waist Down” exhibition came to Shanghai’s legendary Peace Hotel. After this exhibition, and the popularity of the film “The Devil Wears Prada,” Prada became the go-to brand for people in China’s fashion world.
May 2006: Rolex Hits Beijing – Rolex opened its first specialized boutique in China at Beijing’s Oriental Plaza.
October 2007: Fendi’s Great Wall Show – On October 19, 2007, the famous “double F” logo was projected onto the Great Wall of China as Karl Lagerfeld brought Fendi’s spring/summer 2008 show to China’s top cultural heritage site. At the show, LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault was asked why he chose the Great Wall as the site for a fashion show, to which he replied, “Because in the next 25 years, this will be the world’s fastest-growing economy, and Fendi wants a place in this country.”
October 2008: Alfred Dunhill Home Opens Doors in Shanghai – Dunhill, which entered the China market in 1993, opened its Shanghai Alfred Dunhill Home, the third in the world after London and Tokyo, in 2008. The Shanghai location offered a unique retail experience, featuring advanced British tailoring, private concierge services, and a restaurant and lounge.
September 2009: Cartier Treasures Exhibition at the Forbidden City – Five years after its Shanghai Museum exhibition, Cartier brought its “art treasures” exhibition to one of China’s greatest sites — Beijing’s Forbidden City.
December 2009: Chanel Brings Haute Couture To China With “Paris-Shanghai” Show (Jing Daily coverage) – 800 people packed into a venue overlooking the Huangpu River to see Karl Lagerfeld’s “Paris-Shanghai” runway show, created especially for China. This event coincided with the opening of Chanel’s 480 square meter flagship at the city’s Peninsula hotel.
April 2010: Calvin Klein Debuts Fall/Winter 2010 Line in Shanghai – Held at Bund 1919, the star-studded event — attended by Hollywood celebrity Eva Mendes, Japanese soccer star Hidetoshi Nakata, and supermodels like China’s own Liu Wen — marked the first time Calvin Klein showed his brand’s entire line at the same runway show.
April 2010: LV Opens Two Shanghai Stores on the Same Day – On April 28, Louis Vuitton opened two stores at the same time, an unprecedented move for the brand, which is notorious for strictly controlling the opening of new locations.