Hermès sends a message to China
Images for the new Hermès Fall/Winter collection were released earlier this week, with the usual, luxurious European tint (and an indulgent tagline roughly translated as ‘Live like a Count’ or ‘Live like a story’). While Zeitgeist was happy to receive another of Hermès’ seasonal eCRM emails recently (see below), the company was also making headway over the other side of the world, namely in China, the world’s second-largest luxury goods market, (recently overtaking the US), according to Luxuo.
On Tuesday the FT reported Hermès is creating a separate, “bespoke” brand for China. Called Shang Xia (meaning “Up and Down”, hopefully not an analogy for the future of the Chinese economy), the brand launches in September. Those critical of the decision suggest it will dilute the brand essence; this will depend on how it is handled. Giorgio Armani has managed to keep its excellent reputation despite it’s more accessible diffusion lines like Armani Exchange and Emporio Armani. Does watchmaker reverred watchmaker Breguet suffer from being owned by Swatch?
The answer is that it is all a matter of perception. To avoid diluting the principle brand, there must be complete compartmentalisation. Florian Craen – Hermès’ managing director – says “It is a Chinese brand, developed in China with the Chinese team, based on Chinese craftsmanship and broadly made in China. We don’t want any confusion”. Hermès is one of the few remaining boutiques to still have their clothing and accessories made in Italy and France in order to ensure its quality. The other interesting thought will be whether this new Sino-brand will be anywhere near as aspirational for Eastern consumers as its parent is, when all Western allusions are removed.