The plain white shirt is a best seller for Esquel
Why is selling white shirts a good business in China? It’s because the world’s second largest economy is seeing an increasing number of youngsters taking white collar jobs, according to John Cheh, vice-chairman and chief executive of Esquel Group.
Esquel, the world’s largest woven shirt manufacturer, last month launch a new retail brand called Determinant which sells mainly white shirts costing about HK$300 each for the mass market of mainland youngsters.
“The new generation of youngsters in mainland China are white collar employees who need to dress decently to go to work. There are millions of youngsters who have graduated from universities in China every year. They all need a white shirt for their job interview or for their work,” Cheh said.
He said Determinant would target these youngsters so it could sell the shirts online at an affordable price for the mass market.
White shirts are not just for junior staff. When they climb up the corporate ladder, they also need a shirt to wear to work and when meeting with their clients. The quality and price tag of the shirts they buy may well move up along with their promotions.
Cheh is wearing a white shirt during the interview with the Post but as chief executive of the group, he wears one from the company’s deluxe retail brand called Pye.
Pye, headed by Dee Poon, managing director of Esquel Brands and Distribution and granddaughter of the founder of Esquel, has six shops in Hong Kong and mainland China. It sells more high quality shirts at a minimum of HK$1,000 each.
Cheh said the company invested in the retail business to diversify its income source but added that manufacturing remains its core business.
“We plan to only focus the retail business on what we are good at – shirts. China has an increasing number of middle class who can afford to buy good quality shirts and clothes. A simple white shirt may not be fancy fashion but it is suitable for many occasions. It is always a best seller,” he said.