While luxury retailers leave Hong Kong’s Canton Road in droves, Dolce & Gabbana has gone against the herd by recently reopening its revamped flagship boutique on the luxury retail strip. Historically seen as a strategic location for luxury brands, Hong Kong’s Canton Road and Russell Street have been noticeably losing their charm among luxury retailers, as Hong Kong’s social protests and now COVID-19 have taken a destructive toll. Earlier this month, Tiffany & Co and Valentino both announced their departure from Canton Road, and in February, Prada closed shop at the nearby Russell Street amid the city’s COVID-19 outbreak.
It’s a curious move for the Italian luxury brand to make a grand investment in a retail store at this time, given that Hong Kong’s luxury retail market is still in a deep slump from 2019’s social protests and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Industry statistics show that Hong Kong’s local retail market has suffered greatly from these two factors and is less unlikely to see recovery in the short term. Around 90% of retail respondents told the Hong Kong Retail Management Association (HKRMA) recently that they’ve experienced a moderate to severe degree of loss for the two above reasons. In addition, one fourth of Hong Kong’s retail stores were expected to close by the end of the year, according to the association.
Into this comes Dolce & Gabbana and it’s history of public relations disasters in the region. In 2012, Hong Kong residents demonstrated in front of this exact store on Canton Road, asking for an apology for banning locals from taking pictures of its storefront display. Then, in 2018, Chinese netizens went wild from an off-putting campaign that turned into a major cultural misstep for the brand in China, the effects of which still linger today. Under these trying circumstances, the remodeling and reopening of its flagship store makes a strong gesture that Dolce & Gabbana wants to re-establish relationships with the Greater China market. The only question is: will the latter reciprocate?
The Jing Take reports on a leading piece of news while presenting our editorial team’s analysis of its key implications for the luxury industry. In this recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debates that sprout up on Chinese social media.