With a growing number of Chinese and international players and no clear winner, competition is heating up in China’s luxury e-commerce market. On the Italian front, historic Florence-based fashion retailer LuisaViaRoma is joining peers such as Yoox to make a major push into the China market with its online shop. For the retailer’s recent biannual three-day Firenze4Ever event that brings together artists, musicians, and celebrities for a celebration in Florence, it adopted an Asia theme and invited a host of Chinese and K-pop stars that it promoted heavily in China. With an emphasis on art and a roster of both established and up-and-coming fashion labels (including Chinese designer Yang Li), the site is benefiting from Chinese consumers’ growing interest in a wider range of brands. To get more details on the company’s vision for the China market, we recently checked in with LuisaViaRoma Founder and CEO Andrea Panconesi for an interview. If you’ll be in Paris on March 6, you can also catch Panconesi at this year’s China Connect conference, where he’ll be speaking as part of a panel on luxury.
During Pitti Uomo in Florence, LuisaViaRoma hosted its 10th edition of “Firenze4Ever” with the theme “Oriental Obsession.” Can you sum up the idea and reception?
Firenze4Ever started in June 2010 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of LuisaViaRoma.com. Firenze4Ever is a biannual event at the beginning of each new fashion season that promotes and encourages interaction between brands and bloggers, offering both the opportunity to meet face-to-face and to raise their profile online. Its three pillars are fashion, music, and contemporary art—three international languages.
This season’s theme, “Oriental Obsession,” celebrates the fascination the West has had for the East since Marco Polo and the influence the East now has on the West; it’s the intersection of two civilizations with the presence of fashion bloggers and people, and oriental designers. The golden list of special guests included names like actress and singer BoA, known for her performance in Make Your Move and her multiple musical releases, as well as actress and model Chrissie Chau, who most recently starred in Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons. Also [participating were] Chinese songstress Momo Wu, known as the “Chinese Lady Gaga,” who rose to fame after participating in The Voice of China, and singer and actress Joyce Cheng from Hong Kong. [The] Far East became for the first time very close, thanks to the new media and new technologies, such as Tencent, which relayed the coverage on its QQ Fashion channel.
You entered the Chinese market in 2011. What’s next for LuisaViaRoma in China?
We entered the Chinese market with our website completely translated in Chinese. We started shipping before in China but the translation of the website boosted our traffic. China’s e-commerce represents a third of our worldwide business (with Europe and the United States/Canada each respectively having another third). The last two years saw good performances, and we forecast huge growth in China and Asia.
Our collection selection is incomparable; 90 percent is made in/designed in Italy. We have our own warehouse there (and have no plans to open one in China), and offer free and fast shipping via DHL or UPS in Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Macau, and South Korea: we guarantee the same qualitative services to the Chinese people as to the Italians or any other buyer in the world.
Video and visual marketing are mandatory, especially in China, and online TV platforms are becoming places to shop: how does LuisaViaRoma intend to leverage this opportunity?
LuisaViaRoma.com is totally projected to all visuals: visual art, visual music, visual fashion. We invest to provide to our followers with the best content on video platforms such as Youku, iQiYi or QQ Video, and video sharing app like Meipai. We’ll look at the new opportunities to engage with our customers, but our priority is to build the LVR brand name as a leading European fashion player, develop its awareness, highlight top level content, and make LVR.com the luxury destination for Asian fashionistas.
Laure de Carayon (@laure2carayon) is the founder and organizer of China Connect (@ChinaConnectEU), the largest gathering of experts on Chinese consumer trends, marketing, digital and mobile in Europe.