Whenever the subject of China comes up, simultaneously the (worrying) question arises: Will a Chinese luxury brand appear? In 2005 the Walpole Committee asked the question at its seminar "Cracking the Luxury Code", and, survey report in hand, answered in the negative. Since then the focus has moved to the Chinese market and its complexity. Allow me to reopen the case of luxury brands in China and to draw your attention to two brands that seem to demonstrate that, today, the answer to this question would be in the affirmative.
Tai Ping is a brand of luxury carpets, founded in 1956 in Hong Kong. It promotes the age-old tradition of Chinese carpet makers, and intermingles it with design: Tai Ping asks renowned designers (Arik Levy / Frederikson Stallard) to create collections, and edits carpets together with furniture brands (Cappellini).
They have just launched a new collection (0smosis) in collaboration with Arik Levy and Swarowski using a focal reduplication of the structure of crystal through sculptures, lighting effects and carpets ...
Herborist is a Chinese cosmetics brand, founded in 1998, which describes itself as "a Modern Interpretation of Traditional Chinese Herbs". This brand professes to be a subtle balance between "nature" and "biotechnology" – which, you will admit, is far removed from the reference to "Chinese beauty secrets" ("The Chinese Beauty Remedy") used for Herborist at Sephora, where it was launched in September 2008. There are two product lines:
- An evidently "mass market" and accessible range (costing about 10 €, where at L'Oreal Paris it would cost between 10 and 15 €)
- Another range (sold between 35 and 40 € - Western brands being sold between 50 and 70 €) having all the qualities that the western luxury cosmetics brands should have (and which they seem to have lost): very delicate packaging (hot silver and embossing / colour inside), shapes in porcelain, engraved caps... all in keeping with the positioning of the brand.
These then are two examples. There are most probably others. These two brands, show us that the Chinese have clearly mastered "brand management" with regard to premium products, know how to lay emphasis on historical roots and pay close attention to the details that our Western luxury brands do not always do. Welcome to the new world of Chinese luxury brands.