China: brands not catching on among new generation?
Is the stereotype of Chinese customers showing off flashy brand logos a thing of the past? Perhaps, according to a research team at Nelly Rodi, which met with Chinese members of the industry at the trade show Intertextile. The agency spoke with FashionMag.com at the event about sharp changes in demand that Western brands would not otherwise have imagined.
According to Juliette Duveau, fashion project manager at the French agency, an increasing share of local customers continue to remain below brands radars. "A gap has developed between young consumers and their parents,” she explained. “Previously, brands allowed consumers to show off their status. But they don’t mean the same thing for the next generation."
Instead, younger consumers aspire to originality and a discriminating sense of taste. “They are far more creative and fashion-oriented as compared to the international market,” said Duveau. "This is reflected in particular by the emergence of local designers with a more fashionable range, sometimes fashion forward.”
“These designers are proud of their origins and offer Chinese savoir-faire with a modern twist,” said Laurent Mouel, creative director fashion/beauty at the agency. "This contrasts with local designers who used to try to hide their origins, instead taking inspiration from abroad. Today, designers are reappropriating their origins in order to transcend them."
It’s a kind of audacity that can also be found among customers, who now seek to stand out while avoiding past excesses. “Now, there are a lot of Chinese bloggers who are followed throughout the world,” said Marie Dupin, head of Nelly Rodi’s fashion advisory council. “They focus on looks that are a lot more innovative than what you find on Western blogs, which rehash the same sort of things.”
So have basics been eclipsed by this quest for originality? No, says Laurent Mouel. "Basics in China are like classics. Here, basics can be modern, and don’t have to follow strict rules. Customers like simple products that play with colors."
In the end, two modes of consumption now coexist in China. But have brands been too slow to meet new expectations? According to Duveau, even luxury brands have not responded quickly enough to customers’ desires for more personalized products.
"In China, the modernity of the range sometimes goes beyond what’s available in the West," she says. "Brands have focused all their attention on their logos and marketing. We’ve taken the time to investigate this desire for things that are subtler. These expectations explain the success of brands like Celine and Marni."
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