Chinese fashion has an image downside, Bosideng's struggle shows – THE BUSINESS TIMES

[SHANGHAI] Promoting upscale attire in London and New York should not have been so exhausting - at the least that is what Chinese clothes maker Bosideng Worldwide Holdings Ltd predicted when it tried to go international in 2012.

Bosideng, which makes down-jackets for giants together with Adidas AG, was probably the most profitable outerwear provider in China when Chairman Gao Dekang, a tailor-turned-billionaire, opened a £35 million (S$62.2 million) retailer in London's Mayfair. The enlargement plan flopped because the label failed to realize enough traction. Now, Bosideng is specializing in its home market, and relying on international manufacturers to assist revive revenue.

The misfire highlights the challenges for Chinese corporations - the world's largest garment exporters - in attempting to faucet abroad markets with their very own manufacturers. For one factor, their huge home buyer base, traditionally disadvantaged of selection, created a false sense of recognition, mentioned Doreen Wang, the New York-based mostly international head of consultancy BrandZ.

"Chinese client attire makers suppose that placing merchandise on cabinets signifies that you've got established a model - as a result of that's how they got here up in a China the place shoppers simply purchased what was accessible," Mr Wang mentioned. "However within the present client atmosphere, constructing a model takes a very long time and a whole lot of funding." Bosideng, a Chinese transliteration of "Boston," was promoting $.three billion of merchandise in China yearly, together with the nation's prime-promoting line of down-crammed puffer coats, when it enlisted designers Nick Holland and Ash Gangotra to assist it tackle the premium US and European menswear markets.

Drawback was, the Bosideng model was hardly recognized abroad and the corporate did not perceive the funding wanted to realize acceptance as a excessive-finish retailer.

"We tried ourselves to promote our merchandise outdoors China, and never simply be a producer for different manufacturers, however ended up reconsidering that," Govt Director Kelvin Mak mentioned in an interview. "If we need to re-enter the worldwide market, we will likely be extra cautious in taking that step." The corporate closed its unprofitable London flagship retailer in January. The store's opening 5 years in the past - in a newly constructed bronze, triangular constructing off Oxford Avenue, the place the Hog within the Pound pub as soon as stood - was to herald extra abroad shops.

Reasonably than develop, Bosideng went into an earnings free fall. Revenue plunged 90 per cent in three years as clients in China migrated to different corporations' on-line platforms for his or her clothes purchases, and international fast-fashion franchises moved in.

Bosideng's shares, which started buying and selling in Hong Kong a decade in the past, have slumped 66 per cent over the previous 5 years, valuing the corporate at about HK$7 billion (S$.22 billion).

Marty Employees, a former Hugo Boss govt, coordinated the corporate's first and solely exhibiting of its assortment on the 2014 New York Fashion Week. Even so, Bosideng was unwilling to take a position massive sums on promoting and advertising and marketing, Mr Mak mentioned.  He cited that as a purpose why there hasn't been a deal to hold the label at Saks Fifth Avenue. A spokeswoman for Hudson's Bay Co, which owns the New York-based mostly, upscale division-retailer chain, mentioned the corporate does not remark publicly on the phrases of vendor agreements.

Promotional actions for Bosideng's London retailer included lending fits to male celebrities and posts on Fb, Mak mentioned. "We weren't snug with making that sort of funding as we have been simply testing the waters," he mentioned.

Whereas China's residence-grown expertise manufacturers, akin to Huawei, Lenovo, Oppo, and Alibaba, have been profitable abroad, the nation's attire corporations have usually not recognized "easy methods to construct a product with each practical and emotional elements," mentioned Richard Ho, senior companion at consultancy Roland Berger GmbH in Shanghai.

What's required is a profile and a narrative, mentioned Chan Wai-Chan, a retail companion at consultancy Oliver Wyman in Hong Kong. "I might hesitate to name Bosideng a model," Mr Chan mentioned. "They'd a improbable location in London, however when folks stroll by, they ask, what is the story? What's this about?" On a go to to the shop, Mr Chan mentioned he was informed by a store assistant that Bosideng is "the most important down-jacket model in China." "That has restricted impact," he mentioned. "They might have one of the best manufacturing skills, however not the modern concept behind the model. That is why they will make jackets for prime international manufacturers, however not promote them globally themselves."

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