The Telegraph reports that the major Western fashion labels have their sights set on China, where the young and affluent are increasingly buying luxury brands:
It is an unimaginably large and increasingly lucrative market. Prada, which opened its first store in mainland China in 1995, witnessed a 75 per cent increase in turnover in 2010 alone, and will open nine new stores next year.
Miuccia Prada staged her first fashion show in Beijing last month, rejigging her acclaimed spring/summer 2011 show, first held in Milan last September, for the starry audience that included Chinese actresses Maggie Cheung and Tang Wei. On learning that the Chinese dislike plain cotton and anything that feels “uniform”, or has echoes of the strictures of the pre-revolutionary era, Prada substituted the bold, bright cotton dresses and suiting presented in Europe in favour of an array of dazzling sequinned, striped emerald-and-black flapper styles and flounce-hem brocade cocktail dresses that spell flamboyance and glamour. In a neat twist, the unique Beijing dresses will now be available for special order in key flagship stores including Milan, London and New York.
Despite unemployment and extreme poverty, China’s young, affluent consumers have enjoyed a fast rate of growth over the past five years, making it the fourth largest in the world, according to a Mintel report. It is a tiny fraction of the population (an estimated 0.036 per cent), but a powerful one in terms of the luxury market. There is a sense of catch-up and excitement, with a marked taste for the fineries of life, including Burgundy wine, contemporary art, jewellery, watches – and fashion. Hermès counts China as its single largest market, and Richemont, which owns the Chloé and Cartier labels, saw sales increase threefold in five years.