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    Chanel picks Hangzhou for next Métiers d’Art show

    Announcement comes amid market challenges and leadership change.
    Models pose at the Chanel Métiers d'Art 2021 Preview, Château de Chenonceau in France on December, 2020. Image: Getty Images
    Jing DailyAuthor
      Published   in Fashion

    French luxury powerhouse Chanel yesterday announced that its next Métiers d’Art showcase will take place on December 3 in Hangzhou, China, marking a significant return to the region after a 15-year hiatus. This decision comes at a crucial time for the brand, following the recent departure of creative director Virginie Viard and amid ongoing challenges in the Chinese luxury market.

    The Métiers d’Art collection, unique to Chanel, has been showcasing the exceptional skills of the house’s artisan workshops since 2002.

    This upcoming show is already generating buzz in China. On Weibo, the “Chanel to host collection release in Hangzhou” (香奈儿将在杭州举办发布会) hashtag has to date attracted 3.04 million views.

    Bruno Pavlovsky, Chanel’s president of fashion, cited Hangzhou’s connection to the Coromandel lacquer screens in Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel’s Paris apartment as inspiration for choosing the city, describing it as “an exceptional and inspiring destination.”

    Commentators’ reactions on China's socials are largely positive.

    “This is another milestone in Hangzhou’s internationalization process,” wrote George on Xiaohongshu, while fellow poster Tsien gave a different take on the Hangzhou show: “Forcing connections here ... Coromandel lacquer screens ... speechless. They're just after Hangzhou’s traffic.” Another poster pointed to China’s newly relaxed tourist visa policies as making fashion show logistics easier.

    This event marks Chanel’s first Métiers d'Art show in China since the 2009 presentation in Shanghai, underscoring the brand’s renewed focus on the crucial Chinese market. Despite recent economic headwinds, China remains a key driver for luxury brands.

    Chanel grew its Asia-Pacific revenue 17.7% YoY in fiscal year 2023, outpacing its expansion in America (2.6%), but shy of growth in Europe (18.8%). Success in the region can be partly attributed to K-pop megastar Jennie, aka “Human Chanel,” of Blackpink, who has been a Chanel brand ambassador since 2017.

    Challenging times#

    However, Chanel’s strategy in China has not been without controversy. The brand has implemented substantial price increases over the past two years, with some items seeing hikes of up to 70%. This move has sparked debate among luxury consumers and industry analysts about the brand’s positioning and value proposition.

    Adding to these challenges, Chanel faced significant criticism following its recent Cruise 2024/25 collection show in Marseille. Fashion critics and social media commentators questioned whether the brand was experiencing an identity crisis, with some arguing that recent designs have strayed too far from Chanel’s iconic aesthetics.

    In a May Jing Daily column, Daniel Langer highlighted the precarious position Chanel finds itself in: “For luxury brands, which rely almost entirely on intangible values to create desirability, the potential alienation of clients is always a dangerous position to be in, especially at a time when the growth of the luxury market is slowing down.”

    Langer further cautioned, “There’s a fine line between cultivating exclusivity and becoming inaccessible – or even being perceived as greedy. For loyal clients, these price increases must be justifiable with parallel increases in perceived value.”

    Critical juncture#

    The Hangzhou show presents a crucial opportunity for Chanel to reassert its relevance and desirability in the Chinese market. It comes at a time when Chinese consumers, particularly the younger demographics, are increasingly scrutinizing luxury brands for their authenticity, innovation, and cultural sensitivity.

    As Chanel navigates this transitional period without Viard or the late Karl Lagerfeld at the helm, all eyes will be on Hangzhou to see how the brand balances its storied heritage with the need for fresh, culturally resonant designs. The success of this show could set the tone for Chanel’s future in China and, by extension, its global positioning in the luxury market.

    With the luxury landscape becoming increasingly competitive and consumers more discerning than ever, Chanel’s ability to captivate and inspire at the Hangzhou Métiers d’Art show may well determine its trajectory in the world’s second-largest luxury market for years to come.

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