Parsons Boy mentioned Hermes’s proposed launch of Shang Xia 上下, a new label that carries Chinese-inspired ready-to-wear and items. Shang Xia will leverage on the Hermes tradition (or brand, really), but employ Chinese materials and artisanal techniques. Prices will be lower than that of Hermes’s.
I really wonder if it’ll work — selling Chinese-inspired things to a Chinese market, especially at a time when the Chinese seem to want material items that seem to reflect French / Italian luxury. A couple of years ago, I read a couple of books on the Japanese fervour for continental luxury in the ’80s and ’90s. The authors noted that the Japanese would buy pearls from just about anywhere foreign — except Mikimoto, a Japanese label. Now, we’re selling Chinese-made, Chinese-inspired things to the Chinese at French prices?
In its defence, though, Hermes’s new venture might just end up recreating (or overshadowing) the Shanghai Tang success story. I say this with the assumption that SX will target the same market segment that Shanghai Tang does (a generous assumption) — or create demand from a separate segment. Have a feeling it might do better in Paris than it will in China.
Even if it is a huge success, will Hermes have to face bigger intellectual property issues? Also, is this an equity joint-venture? A contractual joint-venture? A wholly-owned foreign enterprise? It’d be interesting to see how its legal department answers the various legal challenges this new venture poses!