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Fashion retailers ‘Asianise’ offer

To lure consumers in new markets, a brand should customise to suit local tastes.

That’s just how international fashion brands venturing into Asia are appealing to cashed up generation of consumers in new markets.

Levi’s, an American brand, is selling Hong Kong designed jeans that are edgy, stiletto-thin and worn-and-torn finish. Levi stores in Asia always feature a different offer to that of its European and US stores, including regular limited editions.

Last year, Levi Strauss launched Denizen (a combination of the words denim and zen which means cute), the brand’s signature label made in China. Experts say that it was a manifestation that Asian are aspirational when it comes to fashion. It was the first time that a Western brand has created and launched a line outside US and introduced it to the mass market including US, India, Mexico, Pakistan and Singapore.

“You can see the power of scale and the power of the rapidly rising affluent. China is one of the top three markets for us. It’s the fastest-growing market we have,” said Aaron Boey, Levi’s head of Asia Pacific told a San Jose Mercury News newspaper writer.

“China is a more important market now for all these companies. It’s been a source for a lot of their global growth in the last two, three years. This is only going to happen more and more,” added James Roy, a retail expert from China Market Research Group.

While Levis has already built a strong brand image in China, Gap, another American fashion brand, is catching up to beef up its presence in China and broader Asia. Part of it is a focussed expansion which includes the opening of seven stores in the mainland.

Gap has also entered Vietnam with its first store in Ho Chi Minh in September. Additional stores are planned for Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi by next year.

“Asians are very aspirational,” said Danreb Cartagena Mejia, marketing director of Imex Pan Pacific, the Vietnamese company with the local Gap franchise rights.

“They have always wanted to have this (Gap products). Now they can buy it,” he added.

Also infusing Asian look, size and feel in their clothing lines are high-end brands Gucci and Louis Vuitton. They believe that Asianness will help the brand gain appeal to consumers.


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