The past year in China’s luxury industry has been one of many changes, including an economic growth slowdown, evolution of digital technology, growing reach of WeChat, increasing influence of art and design on Chinese consumers, and an increasingly diverse e-commerce market, just to name a few. Guiding us through it all this year were CEOs of major luxury brands, Chinese KOLs and influencers, designers, entrepreneurs, TV show directors, and more. Below, we have brought this expertise into one post, compiling Jing Daily’s top 10 most read interviews of 2016.
1. Mr. Bags
Tao Liang has the unofficial title of China’s handbag expert, and anyone who doubts just how knowledgeable he is only needs to glance at his collaborations with Fendi, Cambridge Satchel Company, and countless other major bag brands. The Columbia grad’s wardrobe is home to more than 100 handbags, and it’s likely to get larger now that Mr. Bags has returned to Beijing and opened a studio.
2. Chloe Reuter
Reuter Communications founder and CEO Chloe Reuter shared her experience working with China’s KOLs for major luxury brands, including Delvaux, Porsche, and Sotheby’s. “The most important thing is for luxury brands to develop real relationships with their preferred KOLs, in the same way that they would with brand ambassadors,” she said. “Take time to meet them, to connect and educate them about the brand. Make them fall in love with it.”
3. Revolve Co-CEO Michael Mente
The Los Angeles-based online shop for indie designers that rivals Nasty Gal officially launched in China in June, and Jing Daily had a chance to catch up with its co-CEO Michael Mente and VP of brand marketing and strategic partnerships Raissa Gerona at its opening party in Shanghai. Affirming China’s young shoppers’ newfound interest for unique styles that stray from big labels, the pair said their Chinese market is “right on the edge of the American consumer.”
4. Ultra Rich Asian Girls Director Kevin Li
Jing Daily caught up with Li when he first launched his reality television show Ultra Rich Asian Girls of Vancouver in 2014, but as it approached its fourth season, the series started getting international media attention for its display of the lives of its affluent, young Chinese characters. We asked him about Florence Zhao, who left the show after her uncle was charged with second-degree murder last year. Since then, new projects have been in the works: the show’s YouTube channel HBICTV posted last week it was looking for all new cast members for an Ultra Rich Asian Girls of LA.
5. M Woods Founder Wanwan Lei
China’s contemporary art scene has been under the spotlight this year, with young collectors Wanwan Lei and her husband Lin Han landing a cover of Chinese Tatler in March. The tweny-somethings are co-founders of Beijing art museum M Woods, which recently attracted press for its Andy Warhol exhibition. Lei told Jing Daily about her high hopes for M Woods: “We have both been lucky enough to travel and see what museums can do for cities and their communities, and want to foster the same sense of education, outreach, and pure excitement in Beijing, that exists in museums around the world.”
6. Jean-Claude Biver
The CEO of TAG Heuer discussed the future of Swiss watches in China with confidence, saying “It’s time again to push forward.” The industry has faced troubled waters this year as Hong Kong saw fewer mainland luxury consumers, the anti-graft campaign continued, and terrorist attacks in Europe caused drops in tourists. That hasn’t swayed Jean-Claude Biver, however. “The more competitors are reducing their investments, the more you should invest,” he said.
7. Benwu Studio
The winner of the “Best Design” award as part of AD China and Design Shanghai’s Emerging Chinese Designer Platform, Benwu Studio is known for its functional designs for the home, with a selection of multi-purpose products that are especially ideal for those with small spaces. Members Hongchao Wang, Wei Ge, and Peng You have also worked with international luxury brands in China, including Hermès, on making their store displays appealing to Chinese customers.
8. Pierre Corthay
The founder of French bespoke shoe brand Maison Corthay gave us the ins and outs of selling luxury leather footwear to China’s affluent consumers. Maison Corthay opened its SKP store in Beijing last year, and Pierre Corthay said customers there generally don’t shy away from color. Currently, the brand has just a handful of locations in China, and plans to keep its presence small and exclusive, appealing to consumers looking for a more personalized experience.
9. Zamani Collection
Zamani Collection’s founder Matin Zaman is bent on making the Persian carpet a staple in the affluent Chinese consumer’s home. While the interior design industry is growing in China, Zaman says there is more education to be done when it comes to rugs. “Of course, the Persian rug is famous, but they have have a kind of mysterious image of it in China,” he said. “They think it’s something that doesn’t exist; it’s only in the stories.”
10. Ffixxed Studios
Since our interview with this designer couple earlier this year, Fiona Lau and Kain Picken have showcased their Spring/Summer 2017 collection at YCO Foundation’s Coda Showroom, which selects brands based on both design quality and their sustainable practices. The Shenzhen-based duo are just one example from China’s evolving scene of independent fashion labels that are getting noticed by international retailers, including Lane Crawford and Opening Ceremony.