Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Culture Chanel Shanghai & the luxury's move into the east

Chanel's latest exhibition "Culture Chanel" could be the luxury brand's next step forward to embark on winning the hearts of the Chinese consumers. Indeed, building a relationship, deepening the connection with your target clients is key to any brands, especially one that has such a creative heritage found by one of the greatest fashion pioneers in history. 

expect no ordinary curation of historic work by designers, "Culture Chanel" took on a different angle; it's built based on the life of Coco Chanel. "the exhibition interprets Mademoiselle Chanel's universe through her designs, her iconic pieces and her literary and artistic inspirations." 

departing from linear / chronological exhibition, five themes are developed around the specific identity and culture of Chanel: Origin, Abstraction, Invisibility, Liberty and Imaginary showing over 400 designs, artwork, manuscripts and films in a fluid approach, linking up the creative dialogue between Chanel's designers at different eras. it's no surprise to see Mademoiselle Chanel was hugely in love with the Chinese arts & culture (from her collection of Chinese screens) and would love to see Shanghai herself, although it's only a trip she made in her dreams and now realized by Mr Lagerfeld in his intricately embroidered tweed jackets (in 1996 couture collection) and a short film dedicated to the lady - Paris-Shanghai: A Fantasy

looking at the coverage and photos by many industry leading publications on the exhibition makes me really want to see it myself or should I say meet "her". "Culture Chanel" is now showing at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Shanghai until Mar 14.

not able to make it to Shanghai? get a taste of "Culture Chanel" at: culture.chanel.com

it's of course not the house of Chanel's first foray into the Chinese market. the brand launched chanel-paris-shanghai, a dedicated website to the opening of the newest Chanel boutique inside the Peninsula Hotel, Shanghai and a collection of episodes about the creative process in latest Métiers d'Arts collection. 

Chanel is not the only international luxury label that is tapping the lucrative market, many are ready to feed the Chinese shoppers thirst for luxury and they are expanding beyond the obvious first-tier cities of Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou into the seond-tier ones. in a research by Bain & Co., it's said there is 60% of new growth opportunities for luxury companies in such cities.

nonetheless, the avant-garde fashion which requires more refined tastes to appreciate the edginess and uniqueness is founding its footing in the major cities where fan base are more sophisticated. Hong Kong retailer I.T and Japan's A Bathing Ape jointly opened Bape's second store in Beijing a few weeks ago. the store is located at the basement level of the I.T Beijing store, a complex developed by Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons. 

having a brick and mortar store in the market is crucial. Dsquared follows suit to open its first store in Shanghai last week inside IFC Mall at Pudong. 

Lane Crawford, the HK luxury retailer, announced plans to open three more new stores in China over the next few years in Beijing (LC has one store in Beijing's Seasons Palace since 2007 already), Shanghai and Chengdu. the mainland China luxury retail space is crowded now with specialty retailer, monobrands and department stores and this further attracts century old French high-end department store operator, Galeries Lafayette to set foot later in Beijing (their first Asian store) in a joint venture with I.T Ltd. 

well established brands are already advancing their marketing strategy to influence their target audience, soft-selling them through the history and heritage of the brand with artful exhibitions. Hermès had done so last Sep in Shanghai with Leather Forever exhibition. they also create market specific pieces / collection to further tempt the consumers. to root the brand value and philosophy further into the minds of the Chinese in the form of cultural exchange as it seems to me, came the launch of the brand of Shang Xia last Sep, which carries clothing, home furnishing, shoes and tableware in zen-like, eastern minimalist chic made with the same craftsman quality as Hermès. “The idea is to bring the Hermes philosophy to China, to create a Chinese Hermes,” as Patrick Thomas, Hermès cheif excecutive put it. 

Prada, besides its plans to open its first two new design and research outside of Milan at Paris and HK, a clear signal to paying more attention to the Asia market, the high fashion house staged its first-ever runway show in China last weekend at Beijing's Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum, displaying a slightly revamped spring 2011 collection catered to the country's riche clientele. many pieces from the collection were redone in silk from cotton, coated again with sequins and the tailor-made collection was made available for order the day after the show. 

while sales can be boosted by exclusive collections and physical store presence in the cities, Emporio Armani is already ahead of all to open up a new sales channel of e-commerce specific to the China market, managed by Yoox. the brand launched its first Chinese language online shop last Nov venturing into the world's largest web population (420 million!!!). whether the venture pays off? it's yet to be seen but one thing is for sure, many more fashion houses will only continue to crowd the battlefield of the world's second largest luxury market. 

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