Jing Daily’s Top Posts for the Week
A little over one year since its establishment by Adrienne Ma — daughter of Joyce Ma, founder of the Hong Kong multi-brand retailer Joyce — the Chinese e-commerce platform Shouke Limited is set to be acquired by the London-based online retail powerhouse Net-A-Porter, marking that company’s first major foray into the China market. As WWD notes today, following its purchase of Shouke, Net-A-Porter plans to launch a new website based in China this March, and open a distribution center in Hong Kong at an unspecified later date. Though details are scarce pending an official announcement expected this week, Shouke’s founders are expected to stay on-board following Net-A-Porter’s acquisition to run the company’s Asia-Pacific division.
While Net-A-Porter’s plans to move into the China market have long been expected — the country’s luxury e-commerce sales surpassed 10 billion yuan for the first time last year, and are projected to grow at a pace of 30 percent annually for the next several years — its status and reputation abroad don’t mean China will be an easy market.
Following the wrap of its pop-up “Loft” in Hong Kong’s Pedder Building, which ran from October of last year through February 20, this week Shanghai Tang is giving its Facebook fans a chance to guess the location of its new flagship in Hong Kong. Fans who “like” the brand’s official page are taken to a microsite to view a special teaser hinting at the new location and submit their guesses for a chance to win a set of exclusive prizes. As Jing Daily reported last April, Shanghai Tang made the decision to relocate from its landmark Pedder Building flagship location after a fierce bidding war with Abercrombie & Fitch.
Upon its launch this year, the American retailer will pay an estimated HK$7 million (US$900,000) per month on rent for the enviable retail spot — a 250 percent hike.
Massive skyscrapers designed by international architects may be among the most visible in urban Chinese skylines, but the country’s home-grown designers have spent the last several years steadily making names for themselves both at home and abroad. Of these mainland Chinese architects, few have gained as much acclaim abroad as 49-year-old Wang Shu, whose melding of traditional Chinese aesthetics and modern sensibilities are perfectly suited to his home-base of Hangzhou, the southeastern Chinese city that has been, for centuries, a hotbed of original architecture and design. This week, Wang’s growing international profile hit a new high, as the architect was awarded the 2012 Pritzker Prize, becoming the first winner from China. (Winner I.M. Pei, who received the prize in 1983, was born in China but has lived and practiced in the United States for nearly 80 years.)
Established in 1979 “to honor annually a living architect whose built work demonstrates a combination of those qualities of talent, vision, and commitment, which has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture,” previous winners of the Pritzker Prize include Philip Johnson, Richard Meier, and Frank Gehry.
As Lamborghini frets an ultra-luxury auto slowdown in China in 2012, the latest sales figures out of the country give plenty of cause for optimism for the British automaker Bentley. Last month, Christian Mastro, Lamborghini’s Asia Pacific general manager, said he expected supercar sales to increase around 25 percent this year to around 2,000 units, compared to a doubling in the market in 2011, with Rolls-Royce Chief Executive Officer Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes echoing Mastro’s sentiment by saying growth in the sector would be less “explosive” this year. But in the run-up to the Geneva Motorshow, Bentley execs seem confident that rising demand in key markets like the US and China will keep boosting the segment throughout 2012. According to company figures released today, Bentley recorded a global increase of 47 percent year-on-year in all major regions, with 894 cars delivered in the first two months of the year. Despite drawn-out economic gloom, Europe and the UK recorded respective sales increases of 39 percent and 16 percent, while the Middle East recorded a strong 55 percent rise with 93 cars delivered to customers.
But as usual, it’s the China market that everyone is watching this year.
The art collecting boom that has swept across Hong Kong and mainland China over the past several years has now attracted one of the world’s most high-profile contemporary art galleries, Britain’s White Cube, which helped launch the careers of Young British Artists like Damien Hirst in the 1990s. Launching today in Hong Kong’s Central district, the 6,000 square foot space, the opening of White Cube Hong Kong follows a string of other high-profile galleries that have set up shop in the bustling city. In recent years, the likes of Gagosian, Ben Brown Fine Arts and Hanart TZ have opened Hong Kong satellites, and this May, Pearl Lam Fine Art is slated to open a new location in the landmark Pedder Building. Like these galleries, White Cube is placing a high-stakes bet that the growth of art appreciation and collecting in Asia, and China in particular, will buoy stagnation in their home markets.
As the AP writes on the arrival of White Cube in Hong Kong, a move that “underlines the sophistication and increasing influence of the region’s art collectors.”