A favorite of Hollywood celebrities, French shoemaker Christian Louboutin plans to open its first store in Beijing in July 2011 followed by a Shanghai store at the end of 2011.
Credit Suisse AG projects household wealth in China to more than double to $35 trillion by 2015. China Market Research Group estimates China’s luxury spending, excluding yachts and cars, to be $9 billion this year, up from almost $8 billion in 2009.
The luxury shoemaker famous for its Italian produced red-soled footwear wants to open up to five stores in China to take advantage of China’s thriving economy.
A latecomer to China, Christian Louboutin will need to step up its marketing since the brand is not well known in China — especially in second tier cities like Shenyang and Dailan which offer luxury companies the most growth.
Wealthy consumers from these cities travel abroad less, buy most of their luxury products domestically and have slightly higher disposable income. “Per-capita disposable income grew 11 percent in the first quarter in Liaoning, the province where Shenyang and Dalian are located, compared with 10 percent for Shanghai and 8.6 percent for Beijing,” based on data from the National Bureau of Statistics and Bloomberg.
Since Louboutins are widely popular among celebrities and featured in movies and series like “Sex in the City”, the brand could achieve prominence quickly in China due to its high profile reputation.
Founder and designer Louboutin, whose footwear range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, plans to tailor his shoes to fit local preferences.
“Asians don’t like very high heels with pointy shoes” and prefer rounded toes while his customers in the Middle East prefer platform shoes, Louboutin said.
“Fabric is more popular in France, where women have linen shoes, but not in China,” he said. “In China, when the shoe is made expensive, they expect much more leather.”
Louboutin will keep production in Italy. “I’m very obsessed with quality,” he said. “I don’t want to triple production in a year. If you do too much production, you lose part of the quality.”
Another luxury footwear company expanding in China is Salvatore Ferragamo, an Italian shoemaker, who is considering opening up to eight new stores in China next year.
For luxury companies, China is the go to market for growth.
photo credit: christian louboutin