Could the path to success for Chinese luxury brands start outside of China? Some Chinese fashion designers are looking to boost their profiles and businesses at home by going abroad.
Chinese fashion designer Richard Wu (Wu Qinqing) is one who is banking on this strategy. He may have opened a showroom for his label VLOV, in New York City but the 40-year-old, based in Xiamen, has no plans to grow his business out of China.
Rather, Wu is using the New York satellite, where his spring-summer collection was unveiled at the recent Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, as advertising. “I would like to attend fashion shows all over the world to attract the Chinese consumers and be recognized and accepted by the Chinese,” said Wu.
To do so, Wu has created a strategy that plays heavily on the affinities nouveau rich Chinese have for European luxury goods. The face of VLOV’s fall collection was Christian Dior model Olelg Antosik. Photos of Wu with Dior Homme designer Kris Van Assche, Wu’s self-proclaimed inspiration, and Diane von Furstenberg, who Wu met in New York in February, have been disbursed to Chinese media.
“To start a brand [in China], the first thing that is important is the marketing, not the design,” Wu said.
There has been plenty of attention paid to the clothes, though. According to the brand, the concept for the spring collection is based on the letter V. Designs are minimal. High-density wool, embossed polyester and creased linen are the main materials. Three style groups with colors of gray, which represents the future; black, representing “the origins,” and blue and white, symbolizing hope, will be shown.
“The inspiration comes from architecture, the shape of modern buildings and [the lines] of a car,” Wu said.
The clothes have been designed for what Wu terms China’s post-Eighties generation, which — propelled by the one-child poilcy – developed a sense of individuality that separated themselves from previous generations.
That group is now around 30 years old and benefiting most from China’s economic boom. VLOV’s clothes are tailored to their desire for status and luxury, and are in the vein of Calvin Klein or Hugo Boss designs.
With 556 points of sale including 36 standalone stores now in operation in China, Wu’s strategy seems to be working. VLOV’s net sales totaled $41.8 million for the first half of 2011, up 16.1% from $36 million in the same period in 2010. If the status-conscious Chinese consumers feel their purchases of VLOV will be more validated if they are made in a fashion mecca like New York, Wu’s upward trend will likely continue.
photo credit: vlov