NE-TIGER Designer Zhang Zhifeng: “The Only Chinese High End Brand Is Mine”

BBC Profiles Chinese Luxury Industry And Growing Asian Demand

NE-TIGER's first Shanghai boutique recently opened at Lippo Plaza

NE-TIGER's first Shanghai boutique recently opened at Lippo Plaza

Today, the BBC looks at the rise in demand for high-end goods among Asian consumers, driven primarily by the world’s second-largest luxury market, China. Although it should be no surprise to regular Jing Daily readers, major luxury brands are eager to tap the strengthening buying power of Chinese consumers, and they’re bending over backwards to convince these shoppers to actually buy inside mainland China rather than Hong Kong or overseas. Even greater expansion into smaller Chinese markets, even more lavish flagships — those “luxury brand cathedrals” described by Radha Chadha and Paul Husband in their indispensable 2006 book The Cult of the Luxury Brand better selection, and more localized products are a certainty this year.

But another trend we should see in 2011 is a more visible presence of Chinese designers and brands in the high-end market. Last year brought the arrival of Chinese brands like Shanghai VIVE and the Hermes-sponsored Shang Xia, as well as greater visibility for home-grown designers like Vega Wang, Chen Ping, Qiao Qiao and Xander Zhou. In Beijing, media figure Hong Huang’s store Brand New China (BNC) provided a platform for younger Chinese designers to ply their wares. Along with these newer faces on the scene, industry veteran Zhang Zhifeng, founder and head designer of NE-TIGER, sought to assume a higher profile in 2010, regularly speaking on the importance of China developing its own style and domestic luxury brands rather than favoring only imports. As the always sound bite-worthy Zhang put it, foreign luxury brands have “come [to China] to invade cities and to occupy the land, to grab the market and to pan for gold in our prosperity.”

This year, designers and entrepreneurs like Zhang have their sights set on capturing a bigger piece of the estimated US$24 billion (more than half of which was spent overseas) spent on luxury goods by Chinese in 2009. As Zhang (who recently made a cameo in the Chinese government’s “Experience China” advertisement) tells the BBC this week, he’s got big plans for 2011.

NE Tiger was registered as a brand in 1992. At the time, a Chinese-owned and run luxury brand was highly unusual – and remains so today according to Zhang Zhifeng.

“In Beijing and Shanghai, our shops are still mainly surrounded by Western brand shops,” he says.

“The only Chinese high end brand is mine. We are soon to launch a flagship store in Shanghai central shopping district where my new neighbours will be the likes of Louis Vuitton.”

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Culture, Fashion