Jing Daily’s Top Posts for the Week
In case you missed them the first time around, here are some of Jing Daily’s top posts for the week of September 12 -September 16.
Event Recap: 2011 AliFest (Hangzhou) Blanc de Chine
This past weekend, Jing Daily attended Alibaba.com’s 8th annual AliFest in Hangzhou, a day-long conference featuring guest speakers and panels covering today’s increasingly interconnected online world and the 12-year-old company’s current and upcoming projects.
After stopping by the Net Products Fair — a trade show of sorts featuring products sold by independent Taobao vendors from China, Korea and Japan — in the morning, we attended the afternoon session of AliFest’s Netrepreneur Summit, at which guest speakers included Thomas Friedman and Jet Li.
Surrounded by booming Hangzhou, a city increasingly studded with Mitsuokas and Lamborghinis, luxury malls and high-rise, high-end apartment blocks, the broader focus on philanthropy and culture over the course of the day was a breath of much-needed fresh air.
On October 2, more works from collector and philanthropist Guy Ullens will go under the hammer at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong. Earlier this year, the first selection of Ullens works were auctioned off in the city, causing a mad rush among Chinese collectors eager to get historical and important works from artist like Zhang Xiaogang, Li Shan and Liu Ye. Among collectors, the upcoming Ullens sale next month is widely anticipated.
Essentially, Ullens appears to see the coming sale as a positive thing for the cultivation of newer art collections in China. After the sale, which is expected to raise millions, Ullens will be able to put UCCA on a stronger foundation, while simultaneously seeding dozens of new art collections throughout mainland China and Hong Kong. Considering the pace at which wealthy Chinese new collectors are building private museums and important collections this historical auction could be a start for many.
In recent years, as Chinese luxury consumers have gotten younger and more sophisticated, and the marketplace has become more crowded, digital outreach in China has become critical for major global luxury brands. However, despite concerted efforts by a handful of brands, according to a new “Digital IQ” study by the L2 Think Tank — a New York-based “think tank for prestige brands” — most major luxury brands in China are failing miserably in their efforts (or non-efforts) to connect digitally with Chinese consumers.
According to Scott Galloway (NYU professor and founder of L2) and Doug Guthrie (NYU, George Washington University), who headed the study, “success in the world’s fastest growing market is inextricably linked to digital competence.” Noting that the number of Internet users in China is expected to jump from 384 million in 2009 to 2013, the Chinese luxury market is projected to grow 15% in 2010, and 80% of Chinese luxury consumers are younger than 45 years of age (compared to 30% in the U.S. and 19% in Japan), Galloway and Guthrie unequivocally state that a weak online presence — in terms of site design and functionality, social media efforts, and digital marketing — is a recipe for disaster for brands in China.
This past weekend, members of the Jing Daily team attendedBlanc de Chine’s (源) Spring/Summer 2012 runway show, held at the brand’s New York flagship on 5th Avenue.
The Spring/Summer 2012 collection reflects the brand’s stated focus on cultural authenticity, adopting traditional Chinese art forms likeink and wash paintings as the central design theme. The influence of ink and wash art isn’t limited only to the shapes and lines seen in the collection, but also reflects the brand’s understanding of Chinese craftsmanship. According to Blanc de Chine, the S/S 2012 collection is designed to demonstrate how mood is articulated in ink and wash paintings by depicting “qi” (气, life force) with brush and ink. The main theme of the collection is the absence of color, as the proportion of bare to occupied space is traditionally considered the highest level of art in Chinese ink and wash paintings.
Founded in Hong Kong as a workshop in 1986 and as a retail group in 1990, Blanc de Chine is often considered the first international Chinese premium fashion brand to adapt traditional Chinese design culture for the world of modern couture.
Though domestic plonk still accounts for over two-thirds of China’s booming wine market, valued at 75 billion yuan (roughly US$10 billion) in 2009, imports — particularly of French reds — saw a 60 percent surge in the first six months of 2011. As the always excellent Grape Wall of China blog reports this week, continuing its long-time dominance of the imported wine market in China, France raced ahead this year, sending 5.5 million cases of wine (a 71.2 percent increase year on year) to thirsty Chinese consumers. According to the blog, France currently accounts for 48.1 percent of market share in the Chinese imported wine market, but new figures suggest that the country shouldn’t rest on its laurels, as imports from Spain, Italy and Chile have ballooned this year.
In recent years, the presence of Chilean wine in China has been mostly restricted to bulk imports, often blended with domestic wine by Chinese producers, but now — much like Australian and, to a lesser extent, American bottles — it’s moving up the value chain. According to China Customs, Australia ranks higher than France in terms of declared value per bottle, though the latter is catching up year by year.