CHINA’S NEW ELITE BUYS BIG: Chinese tourists now spend more money than American, European, and Japanese tourists abroad,” says Zhang Guangrui, of the Chinese Academy of Social Science. And nowhere are they spending more lavishly than on high end fashion products.
The Chinese Tourist Agency estimates that Chinese tourists spend about 500 Euros or about $700 an hour when shopping in Paris. They like buying high-end products,” Guangrui says. “Fashion forward products or products still not being sold in the domestic market are very popular.”
‘The majority of Mainland Chinese pay with cash. They also buy very quickly — they know what they want and do not mess about.” Says Sarah Rutson, fashion director at Hong Kong’s Lane Crawford.
Chinese shoppers go for skin care products and jewelry like jade, and single diamond pieces. They also are big on items from Alexander McQueen, Givenchy, Lanvin, and Celine. In the first three months of this year, the number of Chinese tourists shopping in department stores rose 125 percent in the U.K., 217 percent in Italy, and 243 percent in France. Many major European stores have added customer service personnel with skills in Asian languages, including Mandarin and Cantonese.
Coach has added a number of Chinese-speaking associates in its stores, internationally. “As our brand awareness has grown in China, we are seeing significant interest in Coach from the Chinese tourists in North America, notably in key destination cities such as New York, Vancouver and Toronto,” declared Mike Tucci, Coach retail division President of North America.
GOOD QUARTER: And, talking about Coach, the firm’s first quarter profits soared 34.1 percent on a sales gain of 19.7 percent. The quarter was boosted by a 27 percent jump to $136 million in shipments to the United States and the international wholesale channel. Coach CEO Lew Frankfort attributed much of the growth to the brand’s new merchandising, marketing and pricing strategies. He also said (is this a surprise?) that China now represents Coach’s fastest growing business.
PURITY FROM THE LAND OF LA DOLCE VITA: Italy’s hot couturier Giambattista Valli turned away from the animal prints he has been so famous for, choosing, instead, to concentrate his latest Paris showings on sheer white silks with baroque appliqués.
YOU CAN ADD A TOUCH OF PARIS WHITE TO YOUR PRODUCT THIS SPRING. HERE ARE SOME GOOD CHOICES:
- Ceramic and glass stretch bracelet. Classic!
- Sleek unisex wrap sunglasses. In high demand!
BYE-BYE BIKER BLACK: If the trend in Los Angeles is any indication, Biker Tough may soon give way to Scooter Sophisticated. Internationally, there has been very little action in this quarter, despite the enormous popularity of scooters in major cities such as Rome. Now however, women are demanding more fashion for their rides, and companies are giving it to them.
“Scooters are a personality statement,” says April Whitney, editor of California’s Scoot Magazine. One West Coast scooterist, Arlene Battishill, now has her own line of clothes aimed at allowing riders to step off their rides and into a restaurant without looking like they’ve been in a race. The new designs mimic trench coats and military jackets and were inspired by the classic lines of Coco Chanel. Colors are softened from black to grey. The line is called GoGo Gear and is positioned to do just that in the seasons ahead.
NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOW BUSINESS: Aeropostale has opened a wild new interactive flagship store in Times Square, branching out into a whole new concept for retailing. The major maverick store aspect is its balcony, a 700 square foot room that includes a camera to film customers’ antics and shenanigans and then put them up, maybe twenty or so minutes later, on a 1200-foot animated Times Square billboard made up of 2 million LEDs.
–Whoo! Can you imagine the reaction of guys and gals to this one? Anyway, the whole film/billboard experience is devoted to shoppers’ entertainment only, and no part of the balcony experience is given over to product.
“No other retailer would want to do this because it is not productive space,” declared Thomas Jefferson, co-chief executive officer. But that’s not to say that Aeropostale isn’t highly involved with selling. In fact, the store will even sell its T-shirts up until 2 a.m., proving that Times Square still belongs to a city that never sleeps.
Aeropostale has a wide variety of fun products. The company says that its stores average $635 a square foot annually, adding that it expects the Times Square flagship to do considerably better. There is a SoHo shop-within-a-shop on the second floor, and fabulous, worn wood floors and brick walls (very vintage New York) all over, The store also features lots of fascinating illustrations and details, such as a gas pump, and a Brooklyn Bridge.
YOU MIGHT NOT BE TIMES SQUARE INTERACTIVE, BUT YOU CAN ATTRACT A YOUNG, HIP CROWD TO YOUR STORE WITH THE RIGHT PRODUCT. LOOK HERE:
- Crystal earrings in pear shape. Dressy, trendy!