Signaling it is serious about China expansion, Tory Burch opened its first Asian flagship, and its largest store in the world, in Shanghai this week. The 9,645-square-foot flagship is located in the prime Kerry Center retail complex on Nanjing Xi Lu.
The opening celebration included celebrities such as Chinese actress Zhangzi Yi, a dinner prepared by Ben Towill and Phil Winser of New York’s Fat Radish restaurant, and the launch of an exclusive special capsule collection of 20 ready-to-wear pieces and accessories only available in the Shanghai store, according to Women’s Wear Daily.
“I think it’s been a long-term plan of doing it carefully and slowly and waiting for the right spots. This store is a big step for us, it’s our largest store ever and it’s going to be a very important store for us, it’s our first flagship in Asia,” Tory Burch said.
The company may have impeccable timing given the current trend in China for more affordable luxury lifestyle brands, especially American labels.
“The trends are all there for them in China. An increased desire for American brands; a desire for smaller, more niche brands in fashion; the trend toward ‘affordable’ luxury brands, and hundreds of thousands of Chinese traveling to the U.S. and being exposed to the brand there,” Michael Zakkour, author of the new book, China’s Super Consumers, tells WWD .
Unlike the U.S. where her personal appeal is strong, the challenge for Tory Burch in the Chinese market, some say, is that her personal story – working woman and path to success – may not be as familiar and may not resonate with Chinese buyers.
For now, the brand is known to offer “interesting design and high quality at a good price” – not bad in itself except it may not cultivate the desired brand loyalty unless it offers a more compelling angle. Brand loyalty can be achieved if the company can establish a strong connection with working women as it has so successfully done in the U.S.
Burch has a total of ten stores in Mainland China, including the new flagship, and plans to continue to grow organically. International account for 25 percent of its business and the founder and American designer makes it clear that “Asia is such an important part of that.”
image credit: tory burch, david tacon/wwd