Entering the Chinese market is an inevitable step for Italian luxury companies, above all in these days of European economic recession. Even if the flaunted logo has lost its appeal for the Chinese, who are no longer in the habit of being dressed head to toe in designer labels, Made in Italy nevertheless remains a great visiting card for wealthy Asians who are still filling their wardrobes with pieces from the most prominent Italian and European brands.
This is the trend that emerged in the course of the Fashion Global Summit that was held in Milan last week. “China and Italy, two fashion designers in a global market. New challenges, new opportunities for business and partnership” was the theme of the summit that was organised at the Milan Stock Exchange and which involved names from the world of Italian fashion: Zegna, Missoni, Biagiotti, Roberto Cavalli, Fratelli Rossetti and Furla, just to mention a few.
According to the figures, as Du Yuzhou, Honorary President of the China National Textile and Apparel Council, explained: “Between now and 2020, the potential number of Chinese consumers in the luxury goods sector will increase from 80 to 180 million”. According to the data provided in 2012 by Paola Durante, Managing Director of the Investment Banking division and head of Corporate Broking Italy, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, the top-of-the-range segment in China will be worth 14.6 billion dollars or about 11.5 billion euros, with growing emphasis on purchases via the web.
“There is an intermediate stratum of Chinese who cannot afford to buy the most luxurious French and Italian products that is nevertheless looking for something better than basic Chinese goods. That is our target. We are talking about the space for small and medium-sized companies that want to get into China. There is a hunger for new brands at reasonable prices but ones from genuine producers of Made in Italy”, stressed Mario Boselli, President of the National Chamber of Italian Fashion, during the summit.
Among the luxury brands that have done well in China in recent years is Laura Biagiotti. “E-commerce is a market that is not experiencing a crisis and I, as a business, look to this sector”, said Lavinia Biagiotti, Vice President of the eponymous fashion group and daughter of the designer and founder of the brand, Laura. “For young Chinese people, technology and social networks are very important to the extent that, according to recent estimates, 65% of young Chinese check products out on the internet before making a purchase and they often make their purchases online”.
"If the Italian textile sector succeeds in maintaining an advantage in quality, service, innovation and image, given potential growth in the Asian market, it will succeed in guaranteeing the presence and strength of its businesses”, observed Paolo Zegna, President of the Zegna Group and of the Committee for the Internationalisation of Confindustria, the Confederation of Italian Industry. For Gianluca Brozzetti, CEO of Roberto Cavalli, “the strategy is to have a company orientated towards export. We have opened one branch in Hong Kong and one in Tokyo. We are entering China with a company that is 75% ours and 25% owned by a local partner which then handles secondary distribution”.
If China is a market of interest to European companies, Italy may represent a good opportunity for Chinese businesses. “Our collaboration with Italy goes back to 1998 for the supply of raw materials but we are convinced of the need to further strengthen this link by seeking cooperation with Italian companies on the development of accessories, the brand concept and expansion in international markets”, emphasised Zhou Yan, President of Dalian Sunfed Fashion, a company founded in 1977.
From our correspondent
Photo 1: Mario Boselli e Du Yuzhou
Photo 2: Zhou Yan (Dalian Sunfed Fashion Co., Ltd)