After news broke that Raf Simons was resigning from his position as creative director of Christian Dior, it seemed that the brand wouldn’t be quite back to normal until a new designer could be appointed (Dior Studio will design the next 2 collections meanwhile). However, quite the opposite seems to be the case, as Dior has opened a new flagship in Beijing. This luxurious new extension has been accompanied by a recreation of the brand’s runway show from spring 2016. Architect Peter Marino designed the flagship location, which will act as an expansion into the Chinese market.
CEO Sidney Toledano explained that there is a strong demand for Dior in China, especially the more expensive aspects of the brand, and so this will be the basis for the flagship. Dior’s haute couture, ready-to-wear, and jewelry lines will be featured, as these are the areas holding the most demand.
“We had years where we had a super strong, double-digit growth,” Toledano told WWD, while in Beijing on Saturday for the flagship’s opening and spring runway show. “It is not double-digit now, but we are in line with our plans, and we are confident for the coming years.”
With the high demand in China in the past, a flagship location in the heart of the nation will likely stimulate a steep incline, especially in its early stages. Toledano went on to say that it is often the more expensive products that sell more than the less expensive, but wouldn’t disclose the exact numbers. These types of numbers, however, don’t give the brand the specific details, so there’s a lot to learn simply by existing within the new nation. “This is why you need to know your clients,” Toledano said.
China is an anomaly of sorts amongst the other places Dior is located, like Europe, as many European nations haven’t seen any growth in recent years. Toledano also spoke on the recent anticorruption campaign of the Chinese government, which has impacted luxury brands, in that they were given as gifts as a sign of favorable treatment. Toledano told WWD that Dior doesn’t have a problem of that magnitude, however.
The Dior Beijing runway show featured as part of the unveiling was hosted in the Phoenix International Media Center, which is a building shaped like a globe near the center of the city. The show procured a turnout of 700 guests, among whom were celebrities like actresses Sun Li, Liu Yifei, and Angela Yeung Wing (Angelababy). Wing recently wore a headline-grabbing Dior gown for her wedding, as the price was over $30 million.
The official opening of the boutique was on Monday, and is within the China World Mall, amidst other luxury and high-end fashion labels. Dior’s store is two stories, and featured VIP suites and large areas to display the more high-end accessories, jewelry, shoes, and apparel. There is also a limited-edition line of products for customers of the boutique only, featuring products like the metallic “Diorama” bag, and the “Rose des Vents” necklace and bracelet.
All of this is working for Dior’s goal to renovate its existing boutiques, which will help to better serve the brand’s high-end clients by offering the best environment for product purchase and to promote the best possible customer service. Because what less could be expected from the luxurious French design house?
“They are requesting the best service,” Toledano said. “We need more space for our clients, and in terms of our service, more space for ready-to-wear and for fine jewelry. We don’t need to open stores everywhere, but expanding is absolutely what we want.”
The Dior client is likely to find even better customer service with their future business, and it is all a part of this expansion. Because of the greater service being promised, Dior will not be adopting the discount competition strategy many other luxury brands have been using. This comes because the Chinese Yuan has recently been depreciating, and the brands are fighting to remain on the Mainland, despite the products being too expensive because of import duties.
“Some of the brands are trying to cope with the situation and already making some compromise,” Toledano said. “I think this is their problem but is not something we will do. I think the Chinese customer, the luxury customers, they are observing and willing to have brands with a consistent approach. I don’t think people will not buy because it is cheaper somewhere else. If you need a dress, you will not wait until you travel to Europe to buy the dress.”
The luxury customers know what they want. And Toledano says it best when he says the convenience will outweigh the price of the garments. The Dior customer will want to wear a Dior dress, and lower prices elsewhere won’t make them abandon their brand.
The currency fluctuation will likely not affect the customers who want to pay to have a premium experience, even though Chinese shoppers are looking to places like Japan and Australia for their needs. There is always the chance that large cities will make a comeback following a dip like this, so a place like Hong Kong may see more success later on down the road. And Dior will be there when it happens.
Christian Dior has taken the past several years to steadily build its reputation and relevance more and more, through a multitude of fashion events and couture shows, and, more specifically, a Dior Homme show, which took place in Shanghai. With all of these events, Toledano thought it worth explaining why the ready-to-wear spring 2016 line was chosen to be showcased with the new expansion. This new collection will make its debut around the world within the next few weeks, and Chinese luxury customers continue to demand special access to each new line.
Photos courtesy of WWD