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The Fashion Scene: China seeking Leadership in Fashion and Luxury

Fashion Industry News

The Fashion Scene: China seeking Leadership in Fashion and Luxury

By March, 2018May 6th, 2022No Comments

Based in Shanghai where he launched the press and communication agency At The Place To Be, Michel Temman is a journalist and author. He was a daily correspondent for the French Newspaper Libération in Japan (2002-2012) and wrote for ELLE, Next, Challenges and Vogue Homme and regularly collaborates with Capa Agency for Canal+ and France Télévisions. Since 2008, he is also the author or co-author of the Louis Vuitton city guides of Tokyo, Seoul and Shanghai and collaborates with the Fondation Cartier for contemporary art as well as IFA Paris.

The recent acquisition of Lanvin by Fosun caused quite a sensation. But the news also illustrates a trend: the transformation of the sector of clothing in China becoming a pole of creation and internationalization of Chinese brands that are sometimes ready to compete with the Western claws.

The news of the acquisition of the oldest French fashion house Lanvin (founded by Jeanne Lanvin in 1889), symbol of Parisian chic and elegance, confirmed February 21st, 2018 by the Chinese conglomerate Fosun (owner since 2015 and 100% of Club Med) continues to appear in the news. The Lanvin House was detained at 75% by a businesswoman in Taiwan, Shaw Lan Chu-Wang, and by a German entrepreneur, Ralph Batel – which now retain a minority share. If the news sounds less spectacular, this much, that Fosun’s interest in the fashion and luxury industry is not new. In June 2016, Fosun Fashion Group had acquired 25% of the urban and upscale Iro brand – created in 2005 between Paris and New York by Arik and Laurent Bitton, two ex-producers of music. “The understanding by Fosun of fashion, supported by its strong experience on European and global markets make us think that Fosun is the perfect partner for the House’s long-term strategic,” said Nicolas Druz, general manager delegate of Lanvin. “We have no doubt about the fantastic potential of growth of this world-famous brand”, said Guo Guangchang, Chairman of Fosun International. “We believe that Fosun can provide strong added value to Lanvin through our resources and our global expertise, while the top-of-range positioning and the exceptional quality of the collections made in France and Italy”, said Joann Cheng, executive President of Fosun Fashion Group.Chinese doing luxury shopping

Chinese doing luxury shopping


Remarks illustrating the current trend within the world’s 2nd largest economy in the sector: the transformation and internationalization. A long time ago indeed, China and even if it’s still the same case nowadays – was seen as a center of manufacturing and production for the textile and clothing industry. In less than ten years, thanks to the improved infrastructure network, a growing quality of the workforce but also the rather spectacular boom of e-commerce, the manufacturing industry in the country has passed to a centered economy also on creation. Hundreds of new Chinese brands in fashion and luxury sectors, began to hatch, first for their local market, then gradually internationally. With the concern for it to build and benefit from a nice brand image.

Chinese consumers, already the first buyers of the world luxury goods when they travel, have become much more attentive to the Chinese creativity. “The Chinese customer is today highly educated: he has a much better approach to codes, styles and trends. In terms of design, what I saw in China ten years ago, was frankly average. I for my part multiplied the parades, in Shanghai, in Canton, where it was possible, and shown what I seemed to be a quality lifestyle. The idea was to launch a future fashion brands” explains the Designer Olivia Chai, co-founder of IFA Paris fashion school.

Fosun logo

Fosun logo

Because everything has changed: the perception of Chinese brands raising their range and their quality, the creation, trends, design, the advent of Chinese luxury – like Shang Xia brand, passed under the flag of Hermes. Not to mention the revolution that digitals brought to China.

Even if the Chinese textile factories installed around Shanghai and providing foreign fast-fashion in huge orders – H&M, Zara, Mango and Uniqlo are also having great success in China – are equipped for mass production and Export (China has always been the first era clothing industry in the world, industry with a production of approximately 45 billion pieces per year), it’s actually the whole local clothing, textile included, fashion and Chinese luxury that is changing at high speed, shot by a better structuring of the retail and sales sharply higher in e-commerce. In parallel, the golden youth and people in their thirties connected to major Chinese cities, Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, Xiamen and other, especially buying online from established brands, continue shopping looking for nuances, items and brands with a strong identity. Now these young consumers are sometimes looking for casual rather than famous logos and flashy brand style. Example of them winning quickly: Common Gender, masculine brand midway between fast fashion and high-end launched by the Chinese group EPO Fashion Group – which recruits young manpower and stylists budding graduates of the fashion schools based in China. About less known Chinese brands, many are struggling to sustain their business model, even if it means place the bar high. ‘Talented stylists are emerging locally and come up to defy the international brands sometimes radically” notes Sylvia Chan, artistic director of the Mad Design Group.

Lanvin logo

Lanvin logo


It also means, for many young Chinese designers, to expand abroad, in stores or online. And many have succeeded. As the designer Ji Cheng, ethno-centric style and multiple foreign influences are followed in China and abroad. Or even Lu Kun, Dresser of divas – like Paris Hilton – with the flashy style, or Tina Couture brand, Tina Fu, to the precious style reflecting a very Chinese identity. This is still the case of the designer Fang Yang, “one of the five faces of modern China,” according to Newsweek, which has a nice success after having created his own brand in Paris and installed also, in 2013, his workshop By Fang of ready-to-wear in Shanghai. An alternative model of production of small size and with a human face, not more than a few dozen pieces per month, per small custom series. “Although the sector still needs to be structured and create more value on the international scene, fashion, especially in Shanghai, it grows on fertile ground for creativity, with shapes in the design taking the path of leadership, explains Fang Fang. And I also believe that over time, many important national brands are engaged in a process of transformation, from a model focused not only on quantity, but also on quality, the environment and the desire to achieve a high end of international standard. There is now a general effort to publicize abroad the strength of Chinese design and make of Shanghai the influential plate rotating in motion. »

A figure that never fails: by 2025, according to McKinsey, China will account for 45% of the growth in sales of independent and high-end fashion!

Michel Temman

For more information on the subject, IFA Paris will organize and host a panel discussion on the following topic: “the acquisition of established fashion brands by the Chinese conglomerates and its operational repercussion” on March 29th 2018.