“The domain maosuit.com is about to exceed its bandwidth limit”. That’s the message I keep getting towards the end of the last few months, and this month it has come on the 20th day – even earlier. It’s an encouraging sign and shows that traffic to Maosuit and (presumably) interest in fashion in China is steadily rising despite my not posting anything for close on three months.
Maosuit is definitely due for a facelift and interface upgrade – a task that has been sidelined until my relentless travel schedule and other projects have calmed down around April. Therefore, when I fail to properly address the aforementioned bandwidth warning the site goes down until the 1st of the next month when the process starts all over again.
After my last post in December I didn’t intend to stop posting for so long, but glad I did, as it gave me a chance to step back and look and fashion and luxury in China from a more detached perspective. Also the time between Christmas and Chinese New Year is as quiet as China ever gets and is the best time to take a break.
For the fashion business Chinese New Year (CNY) is one for the peak sales times of the year as people venture out to spend the traditional new year money received in little red packets and also bestow gifts of luxury onto business and family connections to bring prosperity. This Year of the Snake there is bound to be an abundance of snakeskin (real and faux) inspired designs to inspire consumers.
CNY also marks the onset of spring and as such many brands will target new store openings to this period and open with S/S collections right on one of the largest spending periods of the year. However, CNY can also be a very troubling time for getting anything done with no one available for work. For millions of migrant construction workers who toil seven days a week for 11 months straight, CNY is the highlight of their year when they can go home for family time and feasting.
As fashion and luxury news within China becomes increasingly generic, the exciting stories for me will be what Chinese consumers and brands are doing internationally. As I travel the world I’m fascinated by the varying degrees of influence the Chinese are having in different countries and cities globally.
The major international cities and particularly the fashion and shopping capitals are already well trodden by Chinese tourists and on a recent flight to Paris for fashion week I shared an Air France flight with Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi, also on her way to Paris for the Dior couture show.
Driving out of Sydney Airport recently there was a massive billboard for Chinese Maotai liqour (which I’m sure Aussies abhor), followed by similarly sized billboards for Air China and Bank of China. Moreover, Melbourne’s main sports arena is sponsored by Chinese electronics brand Hisence and the week I was there two Chinese banks opened their first branches in the city.
What’s interesting to see is the diminished influence and reach of Chinese have in South America. This year CNY coincided exactly with Carnival Season in Brazil, yet Chinese tourists were few and far between in Rio de Janiero. Part of this is obviously the distance. With three days round-trip travel time at least needed between China and Brazil and only seven days holiday for most, its simply not worth the effort to go to. But I venture that its also a lifestyle and comfort issue.
Chinese are content enough to go to Paris or Sydney and shop at Galeries Lafayette or visit the Opera House, but to dress up in ridiculous costumes and drink and dance their way through the streets of Ipanema just isn’t their thing. There was one Chinese restaurant overlooking Copacabana beach, yet we got a funny look when we asked to eat with chopsticks.
Strangely enough Peru is a quite a different story and even at Lima airport their were welcome signs in China and everywhere I went the Chinese Union Pay banking card system was promoted and accepted everywhere. Still, I didn’t see many walking, talking Chinese people.
There is more to come from Maosuit in 2013, but I’m afraid you will have to wait until April and a few more ‘site has exceeded bandwidth’ notices till its back in full effect. Hopefully the wait will be worth it.
Thanks to all readers for your continued support and Happy Year of the Snake!