On February 21st 2018, Lanvin, the oldest French luxury fashion brand was bought by one of the biggest Chinese conglomerates, Fosun, widely known for its acquisition of Club Med in 2015. This major event within the fashion industry enlightens a phenomenon that has been observed during the past few years: more and more Chinese conglomerates are taking over Western companies in the fashion and luxury industries. In December 2010, French fashion brand Cerruti was also acquired for $70m by Trinity Limited, a Chinese clothing retailer.
That is why IFA Paris decided to organize its' latest panel on this topic. Under the guidance of Adile Cretallaz, director of the CAC (Career and Alumni Center) and her team, Michel Temman made a very thought-provoking analysis of the past and current situations of Western companies facing Asian and especially Chinese conglomerates.
To sum up, it seems that Chinese fashion's most important challenge is to be exported abroad but China spreads its financial and cultural power by acquiring stakes of the biggest Western fashion bands or even buying some of these companies. YGM Trading (Shandong Ruyi) bought British trench coat brand Aquascutum for $117m on March 2017; Septwolves has acquired an 80% stake of Karl Lagerfeld Greater China Holding for $36m in August 2017. It happened again recently with Fosun and the lingerie brand Wolford, or the textile giant Shandong Ruyi and SMCP (Sandro, Maje and Claudie Pierlot) – Shandong Ruyi also acquired a majority stake in the luxury brand Bailly for a possible amount of $700m in February 2018.
Our 10 panelists were all sharing their interesting perspectives about China’s power in the fashion industry but also in other industries such as tourism or film, questioning themselves about the impact - positive or negative, it will have on these industries. Will the Chinese conglomerates try to change and to appropriate themselves to the nature of these fashion houses?
China can also be the solution for some brands which struggle to stay relevant in the industry: the debate went far beyond the fashion and reached the shores of management and economic governance.
It seems that it is only the beginning of China empowerment as 2018 will be full of great deals for Chinese companies. According to McKinsey China, the Chinese market will assure 45% growth of independent and high-end fashion sales by itself.
Participants of this panel were (see photo above): Hugues de Vautibault from Hearst Advertising; Claudio Grillenzoni from Florentia Village; Adile Cretallaz from IFA Paris; Luca Paschetto from Dolce & Gabbana; Karen Banks from Karen Banks Consulting; Vincent Djen from FashionEx; Michel Temman, journalist; Elsa Wang from Li&Fung Limited; Mark Liu and Pier Giraudi from New Crazy Color.