Why Are There No Fashion Agents in China?
27 November 2015
Author: Anton Dell
The Chinese fashion market is one of the biggest in the world; consequently, companies are eager to tap into it. However, it is a difficult market to penetrate, as finding agents or distributors often proves a stumbling block.
Businesses in China operate very differently to those in the West and do not generally make use of agents. Brands enter the market via a franchise, joint venture partners, or directly. Distributors, on the other hand, are usually involved in the opening of new stores.
Multi-brand shops are unusual in China and consumers have not adapted to them. Large retailers come to buy in Europe or America and the lack of multi-brand stores cuts out the need for an agent or distributor.
Some businesses have found success by selling at Lane Crawford, which has stores throughout Hong Kong and mainland China. Another option is to open your own store, which must be ventured into with a Chinese partner.
This situation means that it is difficult for us to help brands who want to sell in China. Simply speaking, brands must decide whether they are in a position to invest in their own store if they want to conquer the Chinese market.
The Chinese government is, however, encouraging the development of multi-brand stores. The HUB fashion exhibition in Hong Kong recently hosted a multi-brand pop-up with the aim of exposing the concept to Chinese consumers. Once multi-brand stores are established, the need for agents will become apparent and the climate will become more open to brands from other countries.
While China has a reputation for loving luxury brands, the growing middle class will inevitably create a demand for affordable and mid-range brands. Some of the best and most forward-thinking designers are currently coming out of Asia, and so interest in the region is growing exponentially.
Problems stemming from a lack of agents are also common in Singapore, Korea and Indonesia. Hopefully, the proliferation of multi-brand stores will help to change this in the near future.