Last week, French fashion house Carven held its first fashion show in China, reports WWD. Hosted at The Waterhouse, a boutique hotel on the Bund in Shanghai, the show featured Carven’s summer 2014 men’s and women’s collections. The event celebrates the opening of its first stores in the country. As of September, there are Carven stores at the Galeries Lafayette in Beijing, and two in Shanghai: at the Grand Gateway Mall and luxury mall iAPM on Huaihai Road.
“What we found is two or three years ago, if you wanted to come into Shanghai, there was a limited amount of good retail space. In the last 12 months, new shopping malls have opened that have allowed brands to come in, and they are looking for differentiation from other malls. It is an ideal opportunity for us,” said Ashley Micklewright, president and CEO of Bluebell, Carven’s distributor in China.
The increased interest in Carven stems from the maturity of luxury buyers in China, as well as the anti-corruption initiatives sweeping the country. Both of these phenomena are turning consumers away from logo-heavy, ostentatious products. “The Chinese people are hungry for change,” said Henri Sebaoun, the president of Carven. “There is room for changing people’s conception away from buying all branded products to fashion that is more about individuality,” he said. He believes that Carven’s design-focused, understated collections will appeal to the Chinese consumer, although he admits that brand awareness in the country remains low.
Small brands like Carven have been able to build a presence through placement in multibrand stores, like 10 Corso Como and Lane Crawford. Since entering Asia three years ago, Sebaoun said, the region now makes up about a quarter of global sales for Carven. He hopes that 35 percent of sales will come from Asia within five years. Micklewright and Sebaoun said that there are plans to open 20 stores within five years. The brand is looking at Chengdu in southern China and Hangzhou, near Shanghai.
image credit: carven