Italian luxury company Tod’s S.p.A., which owns a slew of luxury accessory labels from Tod’s to Hogan, has struggled to stay ahead of the competition and increase profitability lately. In an effort to reverse course, the group has sent Roger Vivier – one of its iconic brands that enjoys a significant overseas presence as well as decent brand popularity among Chinese customers – on an aggressive retail expansion in the world’s largest luxury market.
Following a re-launch of its flagship store at Shanghai’s renowned luxury shopping mall Plaza 66 last year, the French brand unveiled its second Chinese retail store in Chengdu's high-end shopping mall IFS on April 11, with a grand opening party featuring brand ambassador actress Tiffany Tang and creative director Gherardo Felloni. Tang assumed the role only in November last year after close collaboration with Roger Vivier at her wedding ceremony with Chinese actor Luo Jin.
The appearance of the newly-appointed creative director indicates the importance of the Chengdu IFS store to Roger Vivier’s retail plan in China. “We are here because the Chinese market is so important to us,” Felloni told Jing Daily. “And Chengdu and [the] entire southwest China is a huge market.”
In recent years, Chengdu has become the new frontier for luxury brands doing business in China. The city, which has a population of 10.6 million, is the country’s third-largest luxury market, just behind Shanghai and Beijing. And IFS, a high-end commercial complex built by Hong Kong property developer The Wharf Holdings in 2014, is the city's landmark. High-profile players such as Chanel, Moynat and Goyard opened their first flagship stores in southwestern China at the mall.
To celebrate the store opening, Roger Vivier set up a pop-up store called the “Hotel Vivier” at IFS. The space is decorated with Wes Anderson-esque interiors - a style that is consistent with Felloni's design philosophy - and filled with the designer’s latest collection alongside some signature pieces. The brand invited a few ultra-rich VIP Chinese clients, who dressed head to toe in Vivier’s items, to meet and greet Felloni. Thanks to the popularity of brand ambassador Tiffany Tang, more than 500 people were estimated to have gathered around the pop-up space.
So far, Roger Vivier has developed a sophisticated digital presence to engage with Chinese consumers. For instance, people can directly purchase products via the brand’s official WeChat mini-program, which launched in 2018. However, an apparent limitation of an online business model for shoemakers like Roger Vivier exists, as it is important for Chinese consumers to try on products before purchasing shoes. The opening of the brand’s Chengdu flagship store can solidify the brand’s image in the Chinese market and improve the customer experience.