This week in the news, the top worldwide destinations for Chinese travelers were announced, Pringle debuted its first Chinese store in Chengdu, Dior held its first haute couture show in Hong Kong, the bespoke trend has taken over China, and Burberry opened its largest Asia-Pacific store in Shanghai.
The number of outbound Chinese tourists continues to rise, estimated at 26.4 million in the first quarter of 2014, up 17 percent from a year ago, according to the China Tourism Academy. CTA estimated that total spending by these tourists jumped by 16 percent to $3.5 billion. These figures are expected to go up considerably. By 2020, the number of mainland tourists headed overseas will hit 200 million per year, double the 100 million who went abroad last year. The report from the China Tourism Academy studied over 20 destinations and found New Zealand, the US, and Canada to be the most satisfying destinations for Chinese tourists in first quarter. Vietnam ranked the least satisfying destination.
Pringle of Scotland will make its debut in Mainland China this month with a new store in Chengdu. The company is owned by the Hong Kong-based Fang family and currently maintains several locations in the city. Pringle’s clothes incorporate such diverse and contemporary elements as knitwear designs, muted sequins, and 3-D printing, using texture and shaping to balance the traditional with the modern. Chengdu’s large consumer base and prime retail space make it the perfect fit for the brand’s first foray onto the mainland. The brand’s Hong Kong stores already draw large numbers of consumers from the mainland, so the market for Pringle apparel is strong. They also plan to open stores in Beijing and Shanghai later this year, and will expand to 15 to 20 stores across the country within three to five years.
The West Kowloon Heliport hosted Christian Dior’s first haute couture show in Hong Kong last week. In attendance were a multitude of celebrity guests and socialites. The luxury brand has plans to open an additional flagship store in Chengdu, which is scheduled to open on May 30 and was designed by architect Peter Marino. Marino’s design includes a novel concept for the brand— a monthlong exhibition. “Le Petit Theatre,” will offer clients a view of the inner workings of Dior and will run through June. Although other luxury brands have seen a decrease in sales these last couple of years, Dior’s CEO Sidney Toledano said that Dior has not seen any halt in business. In fact, sales were up in 2013 from 2012, and the same is expected this year.
Bespoke clothing shows a refinement and modern elegance that is proving to be extremely appealing among Chinese luxury shoppers. This trend isn’t about showing off, but moving away from in-your-face logos and style. While bespoke—custom, one-of-a-kind goods— is traditionally thought of in terms of clothing, its scope is much wider. Bespoke can include sports cars, jets, and anything custom-made. Though the demand for bespoke goods is high, creating mass amounts of handcrafted merchandise is proving to be a challenge. Smaller businesses seem more well-equipped to handle the budding trend, while bigger companies are struggling. One way some bigger clothing businesses are trying to branch into bespoke is by offering in-store tailoring services. International retailer Hugo Boss, is doing just this.
Burberry opened a new three-story store in Shanghai’s Kerry Centre, its largest in the Asia-Pacific region. The new Shanghai store’s design is reminiscent of Burberry’s Regent Street store, and it will offer the largest array of Burberry’s collections in Asia. It also will feature the first Burberry Beauty room in China to showcase the label’s beauty collection and fragrances. There will be a separate area for Burberry’s Britain collection of men’s and women’s watches. The store will also carry an exclusive, limited-edition collection of men’s and women’s ready-to-wear and accessories, including a limited-edition trenchcoat to celebrate the launch. The Kerry Centre store is Burberry’s eighth store in Shanghai.