While some brands were able to weather the latest pandemic wave in China, buoyed by their North America and Europe operations, others have hit their breaking point. Selected, a contemporary unisex label under Danish clothing firm Bestseller Fashion Group, has announced it will close all 1,300 of its offline stores in the Chinese market by July 31.
Despite Bestseller living up to its name and reporting “best-ever results” in the fiscal 2020/21 year, the family-owned company noted that the pandemic brought great changes in consumer demand, impacting China’s traditional retail industry. Selected, which entered the country in 2008, struggled with reduced footfall at shopping malls on top of high rents, management fees, and other expenses, threatening its sustainability.
With a large part of its sales derived from formal business tailoring and business casual, the minimalist brand was also not well-positioned to attract a new generation of shoppers. That hasn’t stopped it from trying though: over the past two years, Selected has attempted to upgrade its brand image, from developing new product lines such as “Silver” to collaborating with major fabric IPs such as Gore-tex, Cordura, and Polartec to offer premium technical fabrics. More recently, it partnered with contemporary illustrator Dandi Gu to create a Year of the Tiger capsule collection that “interprets the tiger power of the younger generation in China,” as promoted on Weibo.
Bestseller has not stated whether Selected’s online presence will be affected. Currently, it has over 656,000 followers on Weibo and sells on its official website, as well as local channels such as WeChat Mini Program, Tmall and JD.com. Regardless, it’s for sure not giving up on the world’s leading menswear market altogether, pledging to allocate more resources to “brands and channels suitable for the future market” and upgrade its three other labels in China: Only, Vero Moda, and Jack & Jones.
Selected is one of several global apparel makers that has recently scaled back in China. American DTC brand Everlane, known for its sustainability messaging, suspended sales on Tmall Global in September 2021 (coincidentally on the same day as Urban Outfitters). While COVID-19 may have delivered the final blow, their problems started well before lockdowns — with failing to attract China’s young consumers.