New York Fashion Week Backstage Pass: Custo Barcelona Eagerly Eyes China Market

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A look at Custo Barcelona’s Spring/Summer 2015 New York Fashion Week show. (Custo Barcelona)

Launched in the early 1980s, Spanish fashion label Custo Barcelona currently operates a network of approximately 80 shops worldwide, with Europe and the Americas as its important markets. Led by designer Mr. Custo Dalmau, the brand is renowned for its lively colors, bold geometric prints, and sophisticated cutout fabrics.

The brand flirted with Asian markets several years ago by taking part in collaborations and launching stores in Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong. With the booming economy and consumers’ rising self-expressiveness in China, next year Custo Barcelona is set to re-enter Asia with a “China First” approach.

On September 7, the brand presented its Spring/Summer 2015 collection “Skin” at New York Fashion Week in Lincoln Center. This season, Custo Barcelona continues its intricate, psychedelic style, and showcases brand new looks enhanced by lightweight and flowy elements as well as playful geometric cutouts. Jing Daily was invited to the runway show and had a pre-show backstage interview with Dalmau, who talked about his plans to enter China with force and how he sees the world’s largest luxury consumer market.

We learned that in the past you had stepped into the Asian markets, and you are currently planning to re-enter the China market next year. We are interested in knowing your plans. 

The plan is to enter the China market with a hand of our Chinese partner because the Chinese market is very difficult to manage [for someone] from the outside. We are now still waiting to meet the right partner in order to open a store.

How important is the China market to your overall global sales?

I think the China market is important to every company. It is the largest market in the world now, even bigger than the States. It is mandatory to be there.

What were some of the collaborations and store openings you had in China in the past? 

We were a part of a decoration in Shanghai [that] we created items for. We were in Singapore and had a small franchised store in Hong Kong, and we are hoping for a bigger one [in Hong Kong] because our collection is big.

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Backstage at Custo Barcelona for New York Fashion Week. (Custo Barcelona)

Although China is one of the largest luxury consumer markets in the world, recently there has been a slowdown in the economy. In this increasingly crowded market in China, what will Custo Barcelona do to stand out? 

The slowdown can be seen everywhere, but in China the slowdown is [to a] lesser [degree]. Our projects are always about colors and graphics, and I think we have something a little different from what already exists in the market, so we can see the opportunity there.

Which consumer groups are you mainly targeting? What are some of the characteristics of your typical consumers?

We are targeting a consumer group that keeps a younger spirit and does not follow the trends. They understand the use of colors and sophistication.

Are you planning to be on China’s social media platforms such as the trendiest e-commerce tools WeChat and Weibo when you enter?

Yes. We need our Chinese partner because we will be managing a huge market [which is] very different from [the ones] in Europe and the States. We will need local experts in order to manage [it] perfectly. [Once] we have a deal or agreement with the potential partner, we will decide which strategies to follow.

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A laser-cut look from the Spring/Summer 2015 collection. (Custo Barcelona)

When do you expect to enter China? 

I hope [it happens] tomorrow morning. As soon as possible. We are now talking with a couple of companies in China and waiting to close the deal. We have tried with many companies, but it has been difficult, but once you sign it, the wheels start running. It is complicated, but it is our number-one priority.

Does Custo Barcelona have any plans to create special-edition items for the Chinese consumers?

Probably. That will be part of the strategy to enter the China market because we will have to do something specific, since the culture is different. Not [necessarily] a Chinese collection, but [items tailored] specifically for the China market.

 

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