This week in the news, Mulberry hopes to capture a piece of China’s e-commerce boom with an official WeChat account, British designer Cath Kidston has sold a controlling stake to a Hong Kong-based private equity firm, private philanthropy is catching on among China’s ultra-rich, China has the world’s largest internet population, and Shanghai Tang will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a huge runway event.
Created in partnership with digital agency Hot Pot Digital, Mulberry’s WeChat account was the logical next step in breaking into the Chinese social media scene after creating an official account on Weibo in May of last year. Mulberry will offer exclusive content to its fans on WeChat, which has over 355 million users worldwide, 70 percent in China. In addition to giving WeChat users a more in-depth look at the brand’s heritage and iconic products, it will also offer a behind-the-scenes look into the brand. Currently, fans can view exclusive content from the company’s fall campaign, which features British supermodel Cara Delevingne. This is part of a larger online-to-offline initiatives that will help bring a seamless experience for consumers from mobile to store.
Cath Kidston, a London-based designer known for her 1950s-reminiscent prints and home-ware, has sold off another portion of her company’s shares in a multimillion-pound deal with Hong Kong-based Baring Private Equity Asia. In 2010, she first sold shares of her company to TA Associates. With the latest deal, which valued Kidston’s business at £250 million, Baring and TA now own equal stakes in the brand with management controlling a minority share. Kidston’s popularity with Chinese and Asian consumers seems to lie in a lust for retro and country styles that aren’t found often in Asia. With such a captive consumer base, Kidston is looking to open up to 100 outlets in mainland China.
China’s billionaires, the first generation of wealthy since market reforms began three decades ago, are giving large sums to charitable causes, although the practice is still in its early stages. Shanghai-based research firm Hurun reports that China hosts one of the highest number of billionaires in the world, but the country’s philanthropy currently amounts to only four percent of the United States’ charitable giving. That percentage will increase as more people like e-commerce tycoon Jack Ma give back. Ma, who founded the online shopping platform Alibaba, announced earlier this year that he would put around $3 billion in a philanthropic trust, with the money going to causes related to the environment, health care, and education.
China has the world’s largest internet population at 632 million. According to the official China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), the number of internet users in China rose 2.3 percent in the first six months of 2014, up from 618 million at the end of last year. For the first time, more Chinese internet users accessed the internet through a mobile device than through a personal computer—83 percent to 81 percent, respectively. The fastest-growing segments of mobile internet use were mobile payment (up 63.4 percent), online banking (up 56.4 percent), and mobile travel booking (up 65.4 percent). Other mobile services that saw rapid growth included music, video, gaming, search, and group-buying, which all saw double-digit growth rates.
Shanghai Tang will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a major runway event, “China Fashion Chic,” on October 24th in Shanghai, which will feature new collections as well as lines developed by local talent, including Masha Ma, Wang Peiyi, and Joseph Li. The event will also include an awards ceremony, a fashion academy, and a competition for up and coming designers. The company hopes to take these events to Milan, Paris, London, and other fashion hubs following the Shanghai premiere. To mark the event, Shanghai Tang will release limited-edition mirrored sunglasses in collaboration with AM Eyewear as well as ten different mandarin-collared jackets featuring Pop Art colors, Liberty prints, velvet, and leather options.
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