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Dec 7, 2012
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Chinese brands are becoming more and more upmarket

Dec 7, 2012

The most recent edition of Intertextile Shanghai, taking place in October, saw little changes to its statistics: 3350 exhibitors and 65,000 visitors left the show organisers, Messe Frankfurt, feeling very pleased with themselves.

Milano Unica in Shanghai

We spoke to a certain designer from a big European brand, “This event is huge. Without meaning to, you find yourself running out of time.” Another European exhibitor told us, “I have been coming to this show for eight years now. The excessiveness of the Chinese brings visitors like a moth to a flame.”

Aside from the grandeur of the 16-hall trade show, the general opinion of European exhibitors is the same: Chinese brands are becoming a lot more upmarkets, and so are the needs of the buyers. “Chinese luxury brands are very expensive,” says Pierre Dupond, regional manager at Dormeuil. “Big Chinese brands are looking to European fabric suppliers to justify their prices.”

For the past two editions, Intertextile has put on a pre-show called Salon Europe that groups together 124 Italian suppliers under the banner of Milano Unica. “We started changing the show layout and the colour coding system in March in Beijing at the launch of Salon Europe. Before that everything was very Chinese. We tried to colour code different stands and to just modernize the image of the show. Despite some barriers posed by the exhibition centre itself, you can really see that Intertextile is trying to change things up. This project supports the important sense internationalization that the show tries to evoke,” says Carole Davallet-Pin, architect and designer from Nelly Rodi.

Lenzing has entire hall for itself and its partners.

The trend of upmarket brands is one that is likely to continue as Chinese brands develop. “A few years ago, this show was purely for sourcing. The situation has now changed because of global economics. European and American subcontractors have started to realize that they could increase their margins if they sourced in their own markets,” says Andreas Dorner, head of Marketing at Lenzing, who along with its partners occupies an entire hall.

Some exhibitors predict that in five years, Chinese brands could represent 80% of the market compared to just 30% today. They also agree that if price is what is important, brands must go to India, Bangladesh and Vietnam for production. “When we first arrived, we would meet with who we thought were buyers from local brands, but in the end they turned out to be subcontractors. Today, Chinese brands are big on quality and are looking to create strong relationships with their suppliers,” says Michael Foudil, Head of the Chinese subsidiary of Plouquet.

It is also for this reason that there has been a resounding success of Milano Unico at Intertextile. “We come here to meet Chinese brands. Brand that simply base their production in China come to see us directly in Italy. China is as complicated as any other market in terms of exports,” states Zegna.

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