A series of events have coincided these days, providing food for thought as to whether Made in China presents more opportunities than challenges both locally and abroad. The opening of the first Shang Xia store outside China, in Paris, this week, could not have coincided more ironically with the opening of the “European-style pedestrian street” as part of a new Wanda Plaza shopping complex in the city of Shenyang – a collection of entirely fake storefronts of major international luxury brands.
Shoppers in the new Wanda Plaza Shopping Center in Shenyang can walk past store fronts entirely make-shift, imitating the identity of each brand, from a distance, yet when approached closer, the brands would read Herwès, Cnanel or Cairtier. The developers of the retail project went as far as stating, on the record, that the storefronts were created for marketing purposes, as Western brands attract Chinese consumers. Needless to say, none of the stores with the fake windows do not sell genuine products.
French luxury maison of Hermes created the Shang Xia brand as part of a distinct entity based in China with the intention of promoting Chinese creativity, craftsmanship and the exceptional quality of raw materials. At the same time, the unstoppable hunger for Western luxury branded products, although it may change in forms of expression, it is not likely to ebb any time soon.
Then, last week, Milan’s leading luxury shopping street, Via Montenapoleone welcomed its first ever Chinese brand – Giada, in an imposing location, rivaling established houses such as the adjacent Versace and opposite the Dior flagship store. Created in 2001 by Rosanna Daolio, the Italian fashion brand Giada was acquired in 2005 by Chinese based Red Stone Haute Couture Group. Today, the brand is already well established in China and the Milan outpost is likely to serve as a a boost of awareness and an opportunity to introduce the brand to consumers outside China.
I strongly believe that, in the long term, the contrasts between the examples above will slowly but surely contribute to the evolution and the education of both the Chinese consumers in respect to luxury products made in China but also of Western consumers in respect to the creativity and quality of luxury products made in China. The honest purpose of any such business will always overcome the opportunistic and in many cases illegal means of turning a huge profit overnight.
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