This week in the news, Chinese online shoppers trust U.S. retailers, Chinese fashion influences dazzle at The Met Gala, Beijing Watch Factory measures up with Swiss watch makers, and Princess Cruises plans to dedicate a ship to Shanghai homeport cruises.
Online shoppers in China are buying more products than ever from U.S. retailers, but what they are buying may surprise you. When Chinese shoppers visit Alibaba’s Tmall or JD.com, instead of looking for Birkin bags and Cartier watches, they are looking to buy products such as Converse, Oral-B toothbrushes, and Costco almonds. The explanation for this shift toward buying consumer goods online comes down to Chinese online shoppers’ trust in the United States’ quality control. By buying U.S. products, Chinese believe they will get a reliable and authentic product. Many Chinese online shoppers now fear buying luxury items online after Alibaba was recently accused by Chinese regulators of tolerating counterfeits on its site.
On Monday night, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art hosted its annual gala. This year’s theme, “China: Through The Looking Glass,” showcased Chinese culture’s influence on western fashion. While many of the celebrities at the event wore clothes with culturally appropriated, and rather stereotypical, Chinese motifs, pop singer Rihanna stole the show in a Guo Pei-designed gown that featured a fur-trimmed, embroidered gold cape so large that it required three handlers. She was one of the few attendees wearing clothing from a Chinese designer. The event coincided with a joint exhibition by The Met’s Department of Asian Art and The Costume Institute, Chinese Whispers: Tales of the East in Art, Film and Fashion.
Beijing Watch Factory, which was founded in 1958 and became the official watchmaker of the People’s Liberation Army, employs a staff of 700 that utilize Swiss tools and equipment along with state-of-the-art Chinese technology to create the company’s high-end timepieces at its factory in the Changping district of Beijing. In 1995, the company developed its own Tourbillon mechanical movement, which is more accurate than traditional movements and puts the watchmaker on par with its Swiss counterparts. A Beijing Watch Factory Tourbillon-movement watch costs between US$6,000 and $72,200 with the most expensive going for 1.98 million yuan. With the introduction of the Apple Watch in China, Beijing Watch Factory faces a new challenge in the market.
Carnival Corporation’s Princess Cruises will introduce the first year-round luxury cruise ship built and designed specifically for Chinese guests when it debuts in summer 2017. The yet-to-be-named 3,600-guest capacity ship is being built in Italy’s Fincantieri shipyard and will have a homeport of Shanghai once completed. It is based on the company’s popular new ships, Royal Princess and Regal Princess, which include a multi-story atrium, a SeaWalk extending over the water, the Princess Live! interactive studio, the water show Princess Watercolor Fantasy, a special Chef’s Table, and much more. Princess Cruises’ new ship will go even further in catering to Chinese travelers with the Princess Class experience, which includes cultural, culinary, and entertainment programs.
image credit: thomas hawk