As you probably already noticed from our quite striking cover image this week, Drapers has been taking an in-depth look at China.
The fashion world’s relationship with this Eastern giant has grown ever more important over the past decade, developing from one based predominantly around manufacture, to one where retail is key. There is more opportunity for retail brands to expand in China as well as large numbers of Chinese tourists intent on spending their not inconsiderable wealth in UK fashion stores.
It is fascinating to explore the evolution of this East-West partnership first hand and Drapers visited both manufacturers and retailers in China to make sure we brought you the facts. The cost of Chinese manufacturing has risen as the factories invest in their people and as more competition enters the market from elsewhere in the world and the Chinese are able to pick and choose their contracts, in some cases forcing out UK business.
Meanwhile, the top earners in China now rival any in Russia and luxury brands are flying off the shelves of Chinese department stores often at a considerable mark-up on UK retail prices. There is also a new breed of Chinese designers rising to prominence on the fashion scene, backed by a consumer culture that is embracing some quite edgy trends. And Chinese indies have fared well too by offering Chinese consumers access to new UK brands as something unique and different.
Opportunities for retailers are obvious, but not just in terms of opening stores in China. Chinese tourists are flooding UK shores and spending a large proportion of their cash on fashion. Some UK retailers are already recruiting Chinese-speaking staff and installing Chinese card transactional systems to reflect this. In these times of austerity in the UK, operators could do worse than look to China for new business.
Caroline Nodder Editor-in-Chief