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Chinese labels arrive in Paris to go global in high fashion

Chinese fashion labels, including Shang Xia, Icicle and Fosun Fashion Group, are embracing Paris as a springboard for their international ambitions, opening flagship stores in the city and hiring French designers to enhance their credentials. Huh.

Chinese buyers are the largest buyers of luxury goods worldwide, including large European players such as LVMH and Gucci owner Kering. But China also has its own fashion companies that are growing rapidly at home and are now targeting the global market.

Half a World co-founder Yishu Wang said the Chinese-owned brand is looking to expand overseas, establishing new labels in the country with the goal of international growth. Expand overseas.

Model Naomi Campbell presents a creation by designer Bruno Ciali during Paris Fashion Week. (Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes/File photo)

“The Chinese market is very saturated and it has become very expensive,” she said, noting that it was easier to get support from investors when taking a global view.

But in the upper echelons of fashion, Chinese companies, which have bought established European labels, have so far found it difficult to take off in Western markets.

Shang Xia, which was founded a decade ago by Jiang Qiang Er and French luxury conglomerate Hermes International, both of which remain shareholders, began as a lifestyle brand focused on showcasing Chinese craftsmanship and then Extended into ready-to-wear fashion.

While the label is well known in China, it has yet to achieve the widespread commercial success that many in the industry had hoped for.

“Chinese luxury brands are still pretty niche,” said Katherine Parker, luxury sector analyst at Jefferies.

Bruno Cialelli. Paris Fashion Week, Chinese High Fashion Designer Bruno Cialelli walks past the end of his Spring/Summer 2022 show. (Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes)

Shang Xia showed her commitment to Paris when she held her first fashion show on the official Paris Fashion Week schedule on Monday, sending a lineup of models in polished suits in bright colors along rounded runways.

With the support of a new majority shareholder, the Agnelli family holding company Axor, the label recently established a design studio in Paris to complement production in Shanghai.

“It is a very bold move to do a show at Paris Fashion Week,” said Susan Heywood, managing director of Exor, who is also president of Shang Xia.

french influence

“We are being watched closely,” said Isabel Caprone, International Vice President, ICCF, owner of Chinese label Icicle, noting that Chinese companies have so far had limited success in building high-end fashion businesses with an international reach Is.

The French luxury executive was recruited in 2013 by Icicle founders Shouzheng Ye and Tao Xiaoma, which bought the historic French couture house Carven in 2018 and created the ICCF Group in July.

With sales of 334 million euros in 2020, up 12% from 2019, Icicle has 270 stores in 100 cities in China. The brand caters to urban professionals with earthy-colored overcoats and suits in high-quality materials, often made with natural dyeing techniques.

The founders of Icicle chose Paris instead of London, New York, and Milan for their investments, founded design studios, and recruited talent from French luxury labels.

“It is in Paris where you can find the talent to raise the level of the collection so that the label can reach an international level,” Capron said.

Lanvin Revival

Fosun Fashion Group is working to revive the historic French label Lanvin with a focus on young, international consumers, and has hired French designer Bruno Cialelli from the LVMH-owned Loewe label.

For the Spring 2022 ready-to-wear runway show in Paris, the designer showed off slim party dresses worn by models in high platform shoes with flared heels, along with an array of handbags and a new pair of futuristic sneakers – Accessories are key to a label’s growth strategy.

Supermodel Naomi Campbell closed the show by sweeping the runway with a long cape.

Shang Xia executives said they are looking to broaden their customer base among younger consumers, add new stores in Asia this year and move into the digital space beyond China next year.

“We are looking for new means to embrace digitization,” said Jiang Qiang Er, founder of Shang Xia, who flew from Shanghai for the Paris show.

Shang Xia’s new creative director Yang Li said he wanted to apply Asian and Eastern design principles to the products, pointing to a bag in the collection in the shape of a triangle.

“In our culture, when we define shapes, they are complete and pure,” he said.

“I want to say here that China is not just a market, but also a creative force,” Yang Li said.

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