Shanghai Fashion Week: UK brands battle for China’s growing market

April 10, 2019

Over the next week Shanghai Fashion Week will fill the city with models, designers and buyers. The show is becoming a key route into China but the lucrative market remains difficult to navigate.

London-based fashion designer Roksanda Ilincic says she admires the adventurous spirit of her Chinese customers.

They’re experimental with a taste for clothes that are “vibrant and sculptural yet feminine”, she adds.

“The Chinese market really resonates with those parts of my DNA.”

For the first time Ms Ilincic is taking part in Shanghai Fashion Week, joining a wave of other foreign brands in search of exposure and crucial business contacts.

Observers say Shanghai Fashion Week, which runs until 3 April, buzzes with young talent and commercial potential.

Launched in 2003, it’s not one of the top four shows – London, Paris, New York and Milan – but its importance has grown alongside China’s economic rise.

“In Asia, there’s an emerging market where lots of the money is spent on Shanghai,” says Tianwei Zhang of Women’s Wear Daily (WWD) .

Many will skip Tokyo’s fashion week in favour of Shanghai “because there’s more money here”, he adds.

Last year, a report by consultancy Bain showed that Chinese spending accounted for one-third of the global luxury market – itself worth 260bn euros ($292bn; £223bn). In 2018, the country’s luxury goods market posted its second straight year of 20% growth, Bain said.

Western brands have long eyed the potential of China’s growing middle class, seeking to find their way into the lucrative – but sheltered – market. Securing business partners and buyers is crucial.

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