Perception vs reality – Libby’s take on China and its place in the world of fashion
Communications Executive Libby English shares her take on the China fashion market in her recent blog with the China New Zealand Year of Tourism.
This month on the blog I thought I would discuss something that I am personally really passionate about; fashion. Now this may not interest all people, but as the saying goes, I have a passion for fashion! Before I scare all the disinterested readers off, I am providing my personal insight on the trends I have noticed in the global fashion market.
China really does have amazing style. I can’t help but notice how incredible the women in Beijing and Shanghai dress and it really has inspired me. There is an element of classiness in the way they dress, combined with an edginess I love. I would go so far as to say that Asia sets trends globally.
I feel not many people in New Zealand associate China with incredible fashion. In fact, I often get the sense it’s the opposite and there is (speaking in very general terms) an inherent bias that associates Chinese consumers with cheap, fast fashion.
I have observed that this could not be further from the truth. Recently I have noticed a lot of articles about foreign companies entering into China on the assumption that, because there are 1.7 billion people in the market, it is too big for failure. If there are that many people, there must be enormous sales, right?
This is a very dangerous assumption and can end up costing business a lot of money. Chinese consumers have a lovely eye and a real taste for luxury, just look at the lines outside Gucci on Queen Street in Auckland. They value quality and keeping up with, or setting, the trends. Above all, Chinese consumers have so much choice they can be as picky as they like.
On top of this huge desire for luxury, quality goods and endless choice in the market, the third big contributing factor to Chinese fashion is the more traditional views on beauty. Asian women and men really value physical beauty. Not only this but millennial consumers now value individualism and quality over quantity. This is proving to be a very challenging landscape for brands to tap into as they determine how to market to the increasingly demanding needs of the consumer.
However, if and when they get it right, it will be an unstoppable force. China is set to become the biggest fashion market in the world this year, surpassing the USA. The sheer enormity is often challenging to get your head around, but according to Fashion United, the purchasing power of millennials in China is approximately 410 million people and growing rapidly.
A new report conducted by The Business Of Fashion and McKinsey & Company, shares that Gen Z alone is set to account for 40% of the global market by 2020. The new emergence of a Chinese Gen Z luxury market is booming so whatever they want, fashion companies need to listen.
Perhaps next time you see “Made in China”, instead of associating it with fast fashion and factories, think about the glitz and glamour of gorgeous Chinese men and woman. China is now set to be the world leader in the fashion market so I would highly recommend looking into Chinese style and see for yourself what I am talking about!