Chinese fashion houses splash the cash to promote their latest collections
As some Western rivals cut back catwalk spending to US$200,000, their Chinese counterparts are perfectly willing to part with US$1.5m on a single show, and host their events in spectacular surroundings
Unlike many of their foreign peers, who have been scaling down their promotional spending in recent years, Chinese fashion brands have continued to raise their marketing budgets, and have been moving into some of the country’s most desirable city-centre locations.
Shenzhen-based Kaixin Fashion, for instance, which owns over 700 retail shops across major Chinese cities, forked over 10 million yuan (US$1.49 million) on Wednesday on a lavish autumn-winter fashion show highlighting its headline female garment line Migaino, which had an audience packed with celebrities and well-known internet key opinion leaders who viewed its creations on a catwalk packed with the country’s top models.
The event, which doubled up as its 20th anniversary celebration, marked a milestone for the Migaino label, and there was no expense spared as guests were bedazzled with hi-tech elements, including a fashion video film, highlighting the company’s strategy to move up several notches in the luxury world stakes.
The lavish evening upped the ante in Kaixin’s increasingly competitive fight for market share with rival Chinese fashion brands, claimed a spokesman for the company, who anticipates that more of that level of spend will be needed to stand out from the crowd, amid a mid-to-high-end local female clothing market busting at the seams with new looks and fresh ideas.
“While many foreign fashion brands have been skipping seasonal fashion shows altogether in a cost-cutting drive, local Chinese brands are still spending big to promote their image and raise their profile – expect huge rises in marketing investment from many others, too,” Jerry Guo, a veteran fashion industry insider, told the South China Morning Post.
Top-tier, cash-rich international luxury brands have, of course, been hosting seasonal shows in the fashion capitals of the world – New York, London, Paris, Milan – for decades.
But it has been reported that this year some of their budgets have been slashed to as low as US$200,000, and that is expected to cover everything from hiring the venue, production, paying the models and stylists, and public relations.
Increasing numbers of grade-A fashion houses have started combining men’s and women’s new collections into one show, unusual in the past, with some even deciding to skip a catwalk show altogether, to save costs as competition stiffens and sales struggle.
The growing top-tier of Chinese fashion brands, on the other hand, are spending freely on marketing on showcase events to promote their latest creations, in a domestic fashion market which is still effectively less than 20 years old, according to Guo.
Boston Consulting Group has been consistently predicting China’s fashion industry to become the world’s second largest after the US by 2020, with total top fashion spending tripling in the country from 398 billion yuan in 2010, to some 1.3 trillion yuan over the following decade.
In March, Zhejiang Elegant Prosper Garment, for instance, hosted a show for its female label EP in Wuzhen, in Zhejiang province – a spectacular riverside town setting in southern China, which also hosts the technology-industry-leading annual World Internet Conference.
Elegant Prosper was also reported to have lavished over 10 million yuan on its event.
Top-end rising star apparel company Shenzhen Ellassay Fashion even held its own 20th anniversary fashion show in the spectacular surrounds of the Imperial Ancestral Temple, inside Beijing’s Forbidden City in November last year – the first-ever fashion show held within its historic walls.
“High-profile promotions among these Chinese clothing brands are not just to impress consumers, but also to showcase just how influential and powerful these brands are becoming, among the elite of Chinese society,” said Guo.
“Many of the country’s top brand agencies and shopping mall executives will have been on these guest lists – but certainly managing to host its event inside the Imperial Ancestral Temple was something of a fashion coup.”