In case you missed them the first time around, here are some of Jing Daily’s top posts for the week of August 8-12:
Last week, Jing Daily sat down for an interview with author, entrepreneur, television personality and new National Director of the Miss Universe China pageant, Yue-Sai Kan, at a reception hosted by Michael Loeb and Affinity China at New York’s Core Club. Also joining in for the interview were Miss Universe China Roseline Luo Zilin (罗紫琳), and first-runner up Hannah Li Zihan (李姿含), both of whom are currently in the U.S. for a one-month training course in preparation for the final round of the Miss Universe 2011 pageant, set to be held in São Paulo, Brazil on September 12.
Over the course of our discussion, we covered Yue-Sai Kan’s ambitious plans for the Miss Universe China pageant, the possibility that this could be China’s year to finally win the world crown, and what Roseline and Hannah have learned in the U.S.
With global financial markets around the world reacting violently to the debt problems plaguing Europe and the U.S., gold hitting US$1,700 per ounce for the first time, inflation in China continuing to hit new highs and the real estate market remaining volatile, Chinese investors are likely to maintain their preference for stability and long-term gain. Having relatively few investment options at their disposal, this means we can expect more of these investors to join the ranks of China’s new collectors, who have increasingly driven sales at auction houses not only in mainland China but also Hong Kong, London and New York.
In the last two years, as Jing Daily has previously noted, this class of collectors has aggressively sought to diversify their assets with comparatively safe investments like art, fine wine, rare watches and gold and jewelry — items seen by many in China as “portable hedges” that will hold or grow value in the face of inflation or gradual revaluation of the yuan.
Never one to shy away from a chance to criticize China’s dearth of powerful domestic brands that can rival international juggernauts like Louis Vuitton or Gucci, this week the influential publisher and Brand New China (BNC) boutique owner, Hong Huang (洪晃), told the Shenzhen Commercial News (深圳商报) that recent cases like the Da Vinci furniture scandal expose a sad truth: China still lacks a domestic luxury industry to speak of.
Still, Hong — who recently signed Xiang Yaodong as BNC’s first in-house designer — and a growing number of Western-trained Chinese designers are looking to cultivate a home-grown luxury fashion industry that can rival international brands, and in this interview Hong displays her trademark mix of cynicism, humor and optimism.
It may still be very much a sport for the fortunate few in China, but golf continues to find new devotees among China’s 1.3 billion-plus population. Since the country’s first golf club was founded in 1984, in Zhongshan, Guangdong province, golf courses have proliferated throughout southeast and east China, and industry observers now estimate that there are between 300,000 and 5 million regular mainland Chinese golfers. Undeterred by astronomical membership fees, China’s new wealthy have often become the country’s new golfers as well, following their counterparts in Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea and often choosing the links as the preferred spot for business meetings and deal-making.
Reflecting the popularity of the sport among the country’s movers and shakers — or those who aspire to be — one worker at Tianwaitian Golf Club in Wuhan recently told Xinhua, “China now just has two types of rich people: those who play golf and those who don’t.”
Following the lead of competitors like Netease, Alibaba and Tencent, this week the largest Chinese-language news portal, Sina (新浪) launched its new luxury e-commerce platform, Sina Luxury, in the hopes of tapping the country’s increasingly young and free-spending online shoppers. Selling luggage, clothing, watches, jewelry and accessories, the new platform stocks nearly 50 brands, including Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga, Gucci, Dior and Burberry, claims 100 percent authenticity and guarantees risk-free returns up to seven days after purchase.
With China’s luxury industry expected to become the world’s largest by 2015, and the country’s online population swelling, dozens of companies, including domestic hopefuls like Shangpin, Zouxiu, Jiapin, Youzhong and ihush, as well as international players like Yoox, have jumped on the high-end online retail bandwagon.