Fendi is the largest Italian born fashion brand that makes up the luxury conglomerate Louis Vuitton Moet Hennesy (LVMH). LVMH has been active in China for close on two decades and although Louis Vuitton tends to garner a lot of the groups attention Fendi has been forging ahead in China and will go down in Chinese Fashion history for being the first mega brand to hold a fashion show on the Great Wall of China.
Speaking recently at a Fashion Summit in Beijing Fendi Asia CEO Mr. Francois-Xavier Severin shared Fendi’s history in China and the current profile of Chinese luxury fashion consumers. Fendi first entered China in 1998 with a boutique in Beijing’s Peninsula Hotel – the first distribution point for luxury goods in Mainland China. “At that time Chinese luxury consumers were seeking brands which were sophisticated and of a high international standard, but they were not looking for ‘fashion’”, said Severin.
From 2003 many big brands including Fendi began to expand across China starting with stores in Shanghai’s Plaza 66 Mall and China World Mall in Beijing. According to Mr. Severin, during this time Fendi identified itself by being one of the first top brands to enter China’s second tier cities.
By 2007 Chinese consumers had matured and were well aware of fashion and just beginning to demand the right brand to fit their character and personality. Fendi took this opportunity to create the boldest fashion show China (and perhaps the world) had ever seen on the Great Wall of China. The show gained international attention and still strongly resonates today as a symbol of China’s arrival on the global fashion scene.
Now in late 2011 Fendi has a network of close to 20 stores across China. Mr. Severin stated that “Fendi’s China stores are becoming bigger and bigger to accommodate the full products lines including fur and men’s wear which was launched last year”. He was also very surprised to see the number of Chinese buyers now attending Fendi’s shows at Milan Fashion Week and who are now buying in exactly the same way as those from the established fashion cities like New York and London.
Mr. Severin went on to describe that the Chinese luxury consumers today are vastly different from ten years ago when Fendi first entered China. “Today the Chinese luxury consumer is mature and wants to be him/herself, he/she doesn’t dress to confirm or look the same as everyone else and they are willing to take risks with fashion. More then ever, Chinese consumers are also demanding authenticity from brands and want to understand the brand story, heritage and traditions so they can buy into and join the luxury and fashionable lifestyle”.
Fendi Designer Karl Lagerfeld already has celebrity status amongst fashion conscious consumers, which will no doubt help their bottom line. Moreover their fur products should do exceptionally well in North China where bitterly cold winters are strong encouragement to spend. In terms of designer fur products Fendi has little competition from other international brands. Fendi’s challenge for the future will be to compete for retail space and the attention of China’s increasingly sophisticated shoppers. Below are some of Fendi’s stores from China and around the world.