Increasing Number Of Cultural Events Hope To Strike Balance With Shanghai’s Business Reputation
Although Shanghai’s status as a global business hub has been on the rise for years, only recently has the city seriously sought to contend with Beijing for the crown of China’s arts and culture capital. Previously, Jing Daily covered the upcoming opening of the newly renovated Rockbund Museum (“Shanghai Bund Art Museum” in Chinese), which will open on May 4 with Cai Guo-Qiang’s “Farmer da Vinci” exhibition. This weekend, two other events — one a fashion event capitalizing on Shanghai’s decadent 1920s and 1930s image as the “Paris of the East” and another an art opening — showed how important Shanghai is becoming as culture and business meld together in China’s top-tier cities.
On Friday, Calvin Klein chose a former textile factory in Shanghai as the venue to premiere its Fall collection, pulling out all the stops to put on an over-the-top show. Although the jury’s still out among some of China’s more snarky fashion bloggers (previously on Jing Daily) whether Calvin Klein is a “true” luxury brand, the company is working hard to grow its tiny market share in the world’s fastest-growing consumer market by co-opting Shanghai’s Jazz Age image of a cosmopolitan metropolis as well as its modern-day image as one of the world’s most exciting commercial centers.
“China is such an important market to us,” Tom Murry, president and chief executive of Calvin Klein Inc, told Reuters.
“It will become the No.1 country in Asia for us in 2010. It will surpass Korea and Japan, our top two countries for the last decade or more.”
Bund 1919, an old landmark building situated along the scenic Huangpu River, was transformed into a stage for 70 models. The event also marked the launch of Calvin Klein X Underwear.
Murry estimates that Calvin Klein’s China sales will grow in the foreseeable future between 20 to 30 percent annually. China will account for about 20 percent of its $1 billion Asian sales.
Flagship brand stores and glossy malls crowd Huaihai Road and Nanjing West Road, busy shopping belts. The historic Bund, the city’s famous waterfront promenade was recently revitalised and offers its own unique type of shopping experience.
Top brands such as Giorgio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana and Cartier have stores fronting the river and shopping there can feel as grand as New York’s Fifth Avenue.
It’s a major development in the fashion world for brands like Calvin Klein to put on such lavish shows in Shanghai, rather than New York, Paris or London, but it’s important to keep in mind that Calvin Klein needs to go all-out in China — not just for the sake of visibility, but because the high-end consumers they’re trying to reach there must be convinced that CK truly is worth the price, that it’s really a luxury brand. This is the difficulty that’s been faced in the mainland by other American brands like Coach, which has become quite popular there but inhabits the far less lucrative “affordable luxury” market.
The other major event in Shanghai this weekend was the grand opening of the Minsheng Art Museum. Reflecting the importance of contemporary Chinese art among a domestic audience, the Minsheng Art Museum’s inaugural exhibition is wide-ranging, made up of around 100 pieces by more than 80 Chinese artists.
As He Juxing, president of Minsheng Art Museum, told China Daily this weekend, the exhibition is the result of three years of intensive preparation with the support of domestic art museums, galleries and New Chinese Collectors. From China Daily‘s coverage of the opening:
Zhou Tiehai, executive president of the museum, said the museum will hold a series of exhibitions on China contemporary art in the future three years.
A photo-taking show on China contemporary art in the past 30 years will be held in May of 2011 and a sculpture show in May of 2012, he said.
Guo Xiaoyan, vice president of the museum, said a contemporary art fund will be set up with the financial support from the Minsheng Bank to award prizes to the artists who make great artistic contributions.
The bank has established a fund for social service with 0.8 per cent to 1.2 per cent of its annual profit as funds. It took out 100 million yuan last year for the fund, He said.
Guo said awardees’ works will be on global display and the first choose of public appraisal will be made in October of 2011.
The museum has also established an artistic research center to support theorists and scholars in their research of China contemporary art.
As Jing Daily pointed out last week, the Minsheng Art Museum also plans to team up with Beijing’s Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) to cooperatively organize and promote Chinese contemporary art exhibitions and activities in China. It will be interesting to see how this domestic outreach translates to more interest in contemporary art among the country’s younger generation (and potential art collectors).