Some luxury players are rolling out the red carpet for the Chinese. Other are looking to distance themselves from them.
French luxury retailer Zadig & Voltaire haven’t even opened their 40-room Parisian boutique hotel yet – they don’t plan to until 2014. But already, they’ve disenfranchised one of the world’s largest luxury markets. In a recent interview with WWD about the hotel Thierry Gillier, the brand’s founder, said, “We are going to select guests. It won’t be open to Chinese tourists, for example. There is a lot of demand in Paris — many people are looking for quiet with a certain privacy.”
When these words hit the web, they caused outrage (particularly on Weibo) and brought up a lot of bad feelings that many thought had died with colonial era Shanghai. While some wonder whether Chinese consumers even know of the brand, most contend this is the worst possible way for them to be introduced regardless. Others say the comments were not directed at race, but at what is perceived as the newly rich Chinese’s “tasteless” luxury buying habits.
In a world where most countries of the world are working hard to welcome Chinese tourists to their shores, Gillier’s comments are unthinkable to many in the industry and outside of it. According to Brand Channel, last year 900,000 tourists visited France, and an incredible 4 million are expected by 2020. Paris is the number one destination for mainland Chinese tourists, where last year they spent $72 billion on luxury goods.
photo credit: zadig & voltaire