Today, we are pleased to unveil BoF China, bringing our authoritative, analytical, award-winning journalism to the $300 billion Chinese fashion and apparel market, available in both English and Chinese language.
SHANGHAI, China — I made my first trip to China as a wide-eyed business school student back in 2001. I did the typical tourist-y things, visiting the Forbidden City in Beijing and exploring the colonial splendour of The Bund in Shanghai.
But even back then, it was China’s fast-emerging consumer market that I found most fascinating: “From street markets carrying knockoffs of Chanel and Prada to high-end shopping malls with products and merchandising easily rivalling that of the West, this is a fascinating market to explore,” I wrote in a personal journal chronicling my trip.
At the time, China was still opening up to the global economy, a reorientation that would eventually lift the incomes and living standards of millions, but there were still signs that the transformation was incomplete. As we walked by the few remaining hutongs in Shanghai, “the smells of freshly baked bread and sizzling skewers of meat mixed with smells of open sewage and rotting garbage,” I wrote.
Of course, the Shanghai of today couldn’t be more different. The hutongs have all but disappeared, fake Chanel and Prada have been replaced by the real thing, and fashion brands have been entering the market in droves to participate in the largest shift in economic and political power since the Second World War.
Indeed, China has undoubtedly emerged to take its place, alongside the United States, as one of the essential engines of the global economy, buttressing the global luxury industry in the wake of the financial crisis, even as other consumer industries were brought to their knees. But in a market like China, the only constant is change. And on each subsequent trip to this vast and varied country of 1.3 billion people, I have witnessed incredible shifts in the market landscape.
Today, luxury market growth in China has stalled, as consumer tastes mature faster than anyone had predicted. Once, luxury consumers were obsessed with statement-generating megabrands like Louis Vuitton and Gucci, whereas now they compose a more complex symphony of signals when selecting the brands that, ultimately, help to communicate who they are. It’s not uncommon to see the same global style tribes of skaters, hipsters and club kids that are defining their own sense of style, beyond what Western brands might want to prescribe as being ‘on trend.’
Following an explosion of new shopping malls, bursting with major fashion brands opening scores of new stores, we are now seeing a clear (albeit quiet) retail retrenchment. Some brands are even closing failed stores and re-opening them elsewhere, enabling them to reorient their strategies around emerging second and third tier cities beyond Beijing and Shanghai, without altering their Chinese store counts.
Consumption of print media continues to boom in China, but a parallel digital universe — of Chinese social media platforms, online forums and fashion websites, now in the pockets of more than 700 million smartphone users — has also become a significant driver of the fashion and luxury conversation.
How does the modern, time-pressed global luxury executive navigate and make sense of all this change? Today, we are pleased to unveil BoF China, a new destination that brings our authoritative, analytical, award-winning journalism to the $300 billion Chinese fashion and apparel industry.
Today’s launch includes three key components:
BoF China Website (Chinese language): Chinese-language website featuring BoF’s award winning fashion industry analysis, with Chinese translations of BoF’s global coverage and dedicated features on the Chinese luxury, fashion and apparel industry. cn.businessoffashion.com
BoF China Daily Digest Newsletter (Chinese language): Like its English-language counterpart, BoF’s highly curated daily email newsletter is the only resource fashion industry professionals need to start their day. Delivered each morning at 6am China time, it includes a must-read feature, as well as a summary of the most important global news of the day, in the Chinese language.
BoF China Hub (English language): A dedicated content hub on businessoffashion.com focused on the Chinese fashion industry, with regular, dedicated coverage, including industry analysis, consumer intelligence and insider profiles to help industry professionals navigate the increasingly complex Chinese market. businessoffashion.com/hubs/china
On BoF China, access to our independent award-winning editorial content will remain free of charge with the support of rotating sponsors. Our China debut is supported by iconic luxury department store Lane Crawford.
In the days and weeks to come, I look forward to hearing your thoughts and feedback as BoF sets its sights on China’s exciting, ever-changing fashion and luxury market, which, even today, is so often misunderstood both inside and outside its borders. We hope to inform and inspire you with in-depth, analytical stories on the people, companies, cultural winds and business trends that are re-shaping the Chinese luxury market today.
Founder and Editor-in-Chief
Visit BoF’s new China Hub to discover more English-language news and analysis on China, as well as a live index of the most influential players shaping the Chinese fashion market. For Chinese-language content, please visit: cn.businessoffashion.com
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