China’s emerging fashion industry

While a number of Chinese technology brands are starting to become household names internationally (Lenovo, Haier, Huawei), China’s fashion brands remain largely unknown abroad. That might soon be changing, however. According to research agency Millard Brown Optimor, one of the fastest growing global brands is Chinese youth fashion brand MetersBonwe. Within the next three to five years, MetersBonwe aims to expand internationally by entering the fashion markets of London, Paris, New York and Milan.

For Chinese fashion brands venturing abroad, the challenge will be establishing legitimacy in the eyes of Western consumers. A recent Accenture report suggests that in order to achieve legitimacy, China should draw on lessons from France’s fashion industry. The French experience was succinctly expressedby Coco Chanel when she noted that, “For a low couture to exist, there needs to be a high one first.” If this is the cardinal rule of fashion it has clearly been ignored by China’s fashion industry, which is all but dominated by fast-fashion. Like with China’s technology brands, however, perhaps the path to international success for China’s fashion industry is not from high fashion to fast-fashion, but from fast-fashion to high fashion.

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