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The Sorry State of Fashion Today...

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by shoreman1782, Feb 2, 2005.

  1. Gatsby

    Gatsby Senior member

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    Just to add my $0.02...

    First off, as to why Japanese are into European clothes, items, etc., let me make a sweeping social generalization and say that Japan has an extraordinarily high number of 'otaku', which normally refers to males who's main hobbies are animation or computers, but can actually be applied to any person with an irrational obssession over some particular item or field. This explains the amazing number of trade specific magazine-books (called "mooks") for shoes, watches, cameras, cars etc..

    That said, most 'otaku' of fashion items do not put as much stock into domestic "western clothing" (in Japanese: youfuku) products as they don't have the time honored tradition and cache of a European product. This helps explains the exorbitant prices for English shoes. There are comparable quality shoes available in Japan by domestic makers, but they sell nowhere near the price of European shoes. By no means are the Japanese just dumb and just willing to pay higher prices, but insatiable demand for "ideal products" drives the prices to almost twice the amount in England.

    As to couture fashion in Asia, despite the success of some Japanese designers overseas, there is no way that Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake, Kawakubo Rei, et al are going to outsell Vuitton or Chanel in Japan. In fact all three designers sell more in Europe and America despite Japan being the single largest market for luxury goods worldwide. I believe the reason for this discrepancy is what we are defining as "tradition." Japanese people want something with the allure, respect, history that can only be found in 'traditional' European brands. With respect to China, the Chinese obviously have a tradition of creating gorgeous silk outfits, it by no means correlates to a tradition of couture clothing, which is undoubtedly originated from Europe.

    More on topic, I believe Son of Brummell summed it up best in his breakdown of the fashion industry into 3 groups. China has already dominated the lower end RTW market, and is now moving into the better RTW department which is where most of the major fashion houses make money. This is also the lifeblood of many European textile mills. But couture is a different story. It is unlikely that China, nor even Japan for that matter, will ever produce an indigenous couture designer that will demand the same aura of respect as a traditional European house, so that market is essentially sealed off from Chinese competition. Of course the reverse is also true: no one would buy a serious kimono (Gucci doesn't count) made by a western designer, and why not? The kimono is "tradition" in Japan, just as couture fashion is "tradition" in Europe.
     
  2. LabelKing

    LabelKing Senior member

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    Yes, there seems to be a distinct amount of irrational obsessions with certain things in Japan.

    However in China that type of attitude towards traditional or high end trendy European items is acquiring a prevalency as well.

    Yohji Yamamoto never actually had a couture collection; he only showed at the Couture Week. Hanae Mori did show haute couture collections.

    And Korea's Ji Haye who was a guest presenter to the Federation Francaise.
     
  3. esquire.

    esquire. Senior member

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    I wonder if you'll still see the same slavish devotion to western products in China as you do in Japan. It seems that Japan has historically looked outside its borders. Before the rise of the Western powers, it used to be China. Afterwards, they turned their attention to the West. However, China has always been much more nationalistic, and tend to regard anything outside its borders as barbaric. Currently, the Chinese are following the pattern of the Japanese, with Western goods given a special cache. However, for the last century, China's industries and consumerism had been deciamated by Mao. You wouldn't know any better if you lived through the Cultural Revolution. When you finally have money, you don't know any better so you turn to companies that have built up a certain reputation. However, by the next generation or two, I think you'll start to see the Chinese to prefer their own home grown designers and talent.
     
  4. Gatsby

    Gatsby Senior member

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    Ironically in recent history, it has been the opposite trend in East Asia. Most other countries look to Japan for influence regarding pop culture, fashion, etc. What's popular in Japan has been the guiding light for trends in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, for at least the last decade.

    As to whether or not China will follow in Japan's consumerism, it remains to be seen. Of course in major urban centers like Shanghai the demand for European luxury brands is skyrocketing, but to reach the level of Japan where 4 out 5 women under thirty nationwide own at least one item by Louis Vuitton is unlikely. Of course we are digressing, the original topic was couture fashion. While it is completely possible that local Chinese designers will gain ground domestically and perhaps even internationally, it is still unlikely for any non-European designers to gain the same level of attention and respect in couture clothing. Even Americans have been trying for decades with no success... Perhaps if Tom Ford started his own label...?
     
  5. chocoball

    chocoball Senior member

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    Gatsby, LV doesn't need for 4 out of every 5 women in China to buy a bag.....just 1 out of every 5 already means it will sell more bags in China than there are people in Japan.

    As for high-end "couture" (or at least ultra high-end RTW) Chinese designers ever being popular and matching their European counterparts, that's an interesting subject. I doubt whether we will see European and North American consumers going ga-ga for a Chinese designer like they have for Issey Miyake or Yamamoto within the next 20 years.

    But Chinese consumers able to afford couture items WILL go ga-ga for a truly homegrown (or even native Chinese practicing their craft in China) designer, if one emerges over the same time period.

    Chinese have always been an inward-looking, patriot and sino-centric bunch. Japanese pop culture has never really caught on in China (unlike in HK, Singapore or Taiwan)....generic Asian pop culture, yes, but not Japanese in particular. In fact, there is a definite sense of anti-Japan animosity amongst young educated Chinese people who have been told for the past hundred years that Japan is the enemy and a lon-time oppressor of China. European fashion is accepted by the growing urban wealthy simply because that's what Hong Kong people aspire to, it is seen as "the most expensive" and hence the best. I doubt if anyone in Shanghai could tell you the pedigree of LV or Gucci.....they buy it because it is simply the most expensive and they can use it to show off their newly-minted wealth to their neighbours.

    On another interesting note, Ports International (a mid-high end ladies' brand similar to Escada Sport or Max Mara) was acquired by a Chinese firm last year. Given the financial state of many European fashion houses nowadays, I think we will see more and more Chinese textiles companies buying up foreign labels for their brand cachet and design talent. So the next Printemps, or LVMH-type fashion conglomerate that emerges may well have Chinese roots.
     
  6. esquire.

    esquire. Senior member

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    Chocoball brought up an interesting point, in that many of the Chinese nouveau riche consumers are buying the European luxury goods to flaunt their wealth, more than an appreciation of the goods themselves. Of course, if you're rich in China, you have to be nouveau riche. I heard the story of one such gentleman who walked into one of those European boutiques, and wanted to buy the most expensive items in the store. After trying them on, he was about to buy them when he was informed that these items were for women.

    I'm not sure, but it seems that the nouveau riche always try to flaunt their wealth and buy the most expensive items. It would be interesting to compare and look at what the robber barons did.
     
  7. benchan

    benchan Senior member

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    Esquire, your story reminds me of another tale in China. A gentleman asked the sales to show him some silk, and he just keep demanding better and more expensive samples. At long last, the sales had to tell him politely that he had shown him the best. Alas, the boss came out, told the gentleman that he had a piece of silk specially reserved for wealthy client like him. And guess what? He sold him just an ordinary piece of silk with a huge markup.

    Well, besides my aforementioned Vivienne Tam, Vera Wang's collections are sported by many stars in Oscars etc. Many of her pieces cost 5k USD or more and fall in the ultra-expensive category.

    You are right, but I doubt this animosity has any major impact in some market sectors though. e.g. I don't see people turning Sony and Evo/WRX away. I came cross some exchange students from China b-4 in HK, and a number of them like to shop at Muji.  Hmm, young eduated Chinese have also been told for the last 50 yrs that communism is good and democracy is the root of all evil, you dont' think they will totally buy into that right?

    The reason people in China is not following the Japanese trend yet(I hope I am wrong in this) is not they simply don't have the chance to get in touch with Jap media yet with all the censorship in place.  One simply will have a tough time getting Japense magazines and CDs in China compare to other places in Asia.
     
  8. Gatsby

    Gatsby Senior member

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    Not to split hairs, but Vera Wang was born and raised in New York...
    Probably true, but post-war hostility/resentment is tangible even today. In the recent Asian Cup soccer tournament held in China, the Japanese team was the only team continually booed in all it's matches, even against completely unrelated teams like Bahrain or Oman. Chinese fans would actually throw things at the Japan team's bus and wear anti-Japan headbands, etc. These are the 'nouveau' Chinese too, not the Mao/Deng generations. Japan isn't really helping the situation either with Koizumi still visiting the Yasukuni Shrine. It's also probably correct that the newly rich Chinese buy luxury items more for brand-name recognition than 'tradition', but we have to remind ourselves what builds a brand in the first place: quality and history, hence tradition. Omega is huge in China, but that doesn't mean it's a shoddy watch (only mechanical watch approved by NASA). Even if someone buys an Omega simply for the name, they're still getting an amazingly well built watch. Sorry this has gone so far off topic.. [​IMG]
     
  9. esquire.

    esquire. Senior member

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    You must not read many other posts in this forum. Its more or less the rule that threads will go off into many different tangents. I don't know if a brand necessairly equals quality, especially in terms of what the noveau riche buy. Didn't the Russian nouveau riche just adore Versace?
     

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