Despite the weakened Chinese economy, the appetite for luxury goods remains strong. What is interesting is that the Chinese look to the U.S. as a credible and desirable source of luxury goods. No longer does the U.S. sit a rung below France and Italy; it now sits side by side on the dais of luxury brands.
As a result, there is a growing number of American brands aggressively courting this market by creating merchandise designed exclusively and expressly for the Chinese customer. Estee Lauder recently announced that, in October, it will unveil Osaio, its first Chinese skincare line. According to Pete Born of Women’s Wear Daily (Sept. 10), “the luxury-priced brand was developed by the New York-based company, Beauty Bank division in partnership with Lauder’s local research and development operation, the Shanghai Asia Innovation Center.”
And this trend is trickling to small designers as well. According to Jing Daily, New York-based designer Patrik Ervell said, “I’m manufacturing clothing here in New York, and I’m exporting it to China and South Korea and Japan. Suddenly, ‘Made in America’ has a value to the Chinese customer in almost the same way that “Made in France” or “Made in Italy” once had for Americans.”
Allen Edmonds, the venerable men’s shoe manufacturer, is also aggressively entering into the Chinese market. To highlight the brand’s “All-American” image, it has developed an exclusive line called the The Independence Collection, each model of which is named after a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
With the likes of smaller brands such as Patrik Ervell and more established brands such as Estee Lauder and Allen Edmonds creating products especially for Chinese consumers, we expect that more U.S. brands will follow suit. In the WWD interview, Fabrizio Freda, president and CEO of Estee Lauder, continues to emphasize the importance of the Chinese market and dismisses talk of slowdown in China. “We are cautious that macroeconomic conditions may impact future growth trends but we continue to grow by reaching new consumers as we expand into more cities.”