Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 25, 2011 09:02 AM
American consumers are still struggling on the whole to make ends meet and a new pair of fancy jeans aren’t in the budget of most households so Western apparel makers are following the lead of plenty of other businesses and trying to establish themselves in China, where some discretionary dollars are still being spent. But they aren’t just setting up stores but changing their product for the market.
The San Jose Mercury News reports that “Western apparel makers are infusing their clothing lines with Asian sensibilities in look, feel and size while embarking on aggressive store campaigns in this part of the world.”
Last year, Levi Strauss became the first Western clothier to launch a new line of clothing, called dENiZEN, in China before introducing it into the States in August of this year at Target.
“You can see the power of scale and the power of the rapidly rising affluent,” said Aaron Boey, Levi’s head of Asia Pacific, told the newspaper. “China is one of the top three markets for us. It’s the fastest-growing market we have.”
Gap is now opening stores in China and Vietnam and could have 15 open by year’s end. When a store opened in Ho Chi Minh City (the former Saigon), it “resembled a movie premiere with trays of champagne and mint vodka being passed and famous Vietnamese actors, models and singers on hand,” the paper notes.
Abercrombie & Fitch’s first Asian store opened in Japan in December of 2009 and has opened two other stores since with more planned. But those stores haven’t done well and other marketers could learn a thing or two from their experience.
“Analysts have blamed those struggles on Abercrombie’s decision to charge Japanese consumers higher prices than those in the United States, as well as the company’s deaf ear to cultural differences,” the Mercury News reports. “One Japanese commenter, for instance, said that the retailer’s ‘long-established WASPy and masculine image does not match the current Japanese market trend for non-aggressive styles.’”