President Of Shenzhen Copais Calls For Cultivating Chinese Design Talent
Earlier this year, Zhang Zhifeng, the founder and Chief Art Director of the Chinese fashion house NE-TIGER said that Chinese luxury brands need to be bold enough to break with the prevailing Western-centric fashion order and create and play by their own rules if they’re going to be successful domestically and overseas. Though Zhang believes the odds are stacked against Chinese luxury brands at the moment, as he told the crowd at the Prestige Brands Forum in Shanghai, “based on the market potential of billions of population, based on China’s 5000 years of civilization and its cultural heritage of Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism, and based on the passion and creativity of the new Chinese generation of designers, I believe in our future in the Chinese luxury brand industry.”
Apparently Zhang’s optimism is shared by a growing chorus of Chinese luxury insiders. At this summer’s China Luxury Summit, Zhao Yunhu (赵云虎), president of the Chinese fashion manufacturer Shenzhen Copais, issued a controversial declaration, saying the Chinese luxury industry is ripe for a revolution — led by home-grown brands and design talent — to combat European dominance. From the Chinese news site Foreign Trade (translation by Jing Daily team):
A small number of major global luxury brands account for the vast majority of market share in the Chinese luxury industry and occupy most of the industry’s resources, particularly [distribution] channels and the media. In contrast, the breathing room for new, original designs is constantly decreasing. If these big brands were to seamlessly converge, newer brands wouldn’t have a chance for survival. Absent any fresh blood in the world of fashion, it’s like a pool of stagnant water — without any vitality and energy, the development of world fashion trends will be seriously hampered.
[At the China Luxury Summit,] Zhao Yunhu said that at the moment, only a handful of major luxury brands had acquired “the right to speak” in emerging markets like China and India, and were riding on the backs of their logos to ever-greater profits. This situation is extremely unfair to newer brands, not only stifling opportunities for other countries and Chinese designers but also depriving some of the world’s best designers the right to develop their brand personalities.
“China should reshape the luxury ecosystem,” Zhao Yunhu said. “The way Western luxury brands entered China resulted in a few brands holding a monopoly. Does this mean that China has no taste, no fashion viewpoint? Absolutely not. So we need to reorient our understanding of the luxury industry and redeploy the benefits this industry should bring. We need to make sure that Chinese fashion consumers start adopting a freer, more personal aesthetic consciousness.”
China needs a luxury industry revolution, started by domestic brands, to engage the [currently dominant] international brands. Only by destroying and revamping the existing rigid model can luxury brands break the monopoly and lead to a blossoming of new brands, returning luxury to the realm of freedom and creating more diversification among Chinese consumers — a more free market model, rather than one defined by blind obedience among “logo slaves.”
To subvert the mythology of Western luxury goods, Zhao Yunhu formally proposed an entirely new business model for the fashion industry. That is, a cooperative fostering of innovation through the mutual research and effort of major luxury brands.
Zhao Yunhu hopes that through this new business model, the Chinese luxury industry will move toward diversification, developing in a more personalized direction.