Looks from Topshop's Spring/Summer 2014 collection. (Topshop)
Ever since British fast-fashion giant Topshop made a splash with its Hong Kong opening last year, Chinese fashionistas have been waiting with anticipation for its launch on the mainland. They won’t have to wait much longer for the moment to arrive, but it won’t be happening on the streets of Shanghai or Beijing—rather, it’s going to take place in cyberspace.
That’s because Chinese luxury e-commerce boutique ShangPin announced on August 12 that it has become the first online partner in China for Arcadia Group Ltd.’s British brands Topshop and Miss Selfridge. Both labels are set to launch on the site starting in September 2014 as part of a bid to reach China’s trendy and tech-savvy millennial market.
“China’s new fashion consumers are in their 20s-30s and are moving away from big logos to being fashion forward and wanting to express their individuality through mixing and matching styles and brands,” said ShangPin CEO David Zhao of the deal. “The Arcadia Group Ltd’s portfolio of fashion brands is perfectly suited to ShangPin’s customer base and we are thrilled to be bringing both Topshop and Miss Selfridge into China with their respective brand DNAs.”
The relatively young age of Topshop’s average customer is a main reason for it to prioritize e-commerce over brick and mortar on the mainland. While it has previously hosted limited-time pop-up shops in Shenzhen and Shanghai, the e-commerce venture will mark its first permanent mainland China presence. This decision will help the brand reach members of China’s post-80s and post-90s generations, who spend up to 30 percent of their time online or on a mobile device. “This is the digital savvy new generation all brands must target for their next 20 years of growth along with the rise of the ‘fashion aware’ middle class in China,” said ShangPin Vice President of International Business Development M. Claire Chung.
ShangPin has been in the process of developing a comprehensive social media marketing plan to complement its recent mobile developments, according to Chung. In September, it will be launching a new social marketing platform on its site. “We plan to style up to 1,000 looks per month using all brands. These looks can then be shared across all Chinese social media including Weibo, WeChat, and QQ,” she said. “With Topshop and Miss Selfridge, we will be able to show the customer how to mix and match the styles alongside designer brands.” According to her, 40 percent of the site’s sales transactions now take place on mobile after it launched its mobile app last year.
The partnership will also help Topshop reach customers in China’s Tier 2 and 3 cities. “We plan to deliver the most current fashion trends into 400 cities across China to dress a new generation of fashion lovers,” said Zhao.
“We decided to partner with ShangPin in China because they demonstrated to us their capacity to operate brands and understand marketing and brand building,” commented Arcadia Group CEO Philip Green. “As we continue to grow our global expansion, this will be a step forward using the power of China’s online reach and therefore selling into one of the world’s most exciting consumer markets.”