Scene from Zegna's 20th anniversary runway show in Beijing
Coming off the launch of its new location at Beijing's Peninsula Hotel, the premium Italian brand Ermenegildo Zegna recently celebrated its 20th anniversary in the China market. While Zegna continues to post impressive sales in China, and the country itself continues to steadily gain ground on the world's top luxury market, Japan, the brand's 20th anniversary comes amid ever more fierce competition. Although brand director Gildo Zegna sounded confident at an anniversary ceremony in Beijing, saying, "Zegna will continue to be the leader in the Chinese luxury market," rivals too are hunkering down for a long fight for China's affluent consumer.
As the Wall Street Journal wrote last week, "Zegna is having to fight for retail space in China as the landscape has become increasingly crowded with other luxury fashion brands deepening their ambitions and making further inroads." Still, as one of top five luxury brands in China, and a very early mover in contrast to recent entrants like Ralph Lauren, Gildo Zegna added, "I think our success mainly comes from our pioneering spirit."
Since entering China in 1991, Zegna has opened 75 stores in 37 cities. With plans to enter comparatively small fourth-tier cities, the brand is expected to operate 80 locations by the end of the year. Zegna posted annual sales growth of around 30 percent between 2006-2010, reaching net revenue of US$79.2 million last year, well above the $24 million it raked in in 2009. Currently, Asia sales account for 46 percent of Zegna's total global revenue, led by China, which itself accounted for 30 percent of the brand's $1.27 billion in global sales in 2010.
In an attempt to keep up its momentum, and perhaps get an edge on its competitors, Zegna has recently incorporated more Chinese design features. As the Wall Street Journal noted, for its Fall/Winter series, "Zegna has started selling a somber-toned, China-themed collection that it says is inspired by Chinese Revolution uniforms and ties with a Zegna seal in Chinese characters. Its China-inspired suits sell for around $3,695 to $4,295."