According to Fashion Network, in 2017 a massive 55% of surveyed Chinese e-retail spenders purchased British brands. These shoppers reported average monthly purchases of £104 per month on British Fashion, significantly larger than the £89 a month that the average domestic UK shopper spends.
This news is nothing new to the largest of British fashion houses, with Vivian Westwood and Burberry having opened hundreds of stores in mainland China in recent years. Other fashion retailers with the financial clout to do so are following suit: In December 2016 Topshop announced plans to open offline boutiques in the Chinese mainland. To put it simply, China is no longer just the source of cheap production materials and labour for the UK’s leading Fashion Brands, it is their largest potential market by a considerable distance.
Brexit is looming and as European markets appear bleaker, the Chinese fashion market has never looked better. British-Chinese designers including Wen Pan Studio, Masha Ma and Yang Li are following in Uma Wang’s footsteps in accessing both the London and Chinese consumer fashion markets. Importantly, in doing so, they are actually shaping Chinese fashion tastes and subsequently contributing to an industry in China very intimately influenced by British Fashion. And what is the result? Bingo! British Fashion is increasingly appealing to an increasingly affluent Chinese shopper.
It’s obvious that the driver for the growth of British Fashion does not lay solely at the feet of the new breed of British-Chinese Fashion designers. Chinese retailers are also playing their part to facilitate the access of domestic UK brands into China, Topshop are working with Shangpin.com, and Farfetch with JD.com, giving albeit costly access to the international growth market.
Even the British government is getting involved. The Fashion is GREAT initiative, facilitation of cooperation between London and Shanghai Fashion weeks and numerous trade delegations to Beijing have contributed to the UK being head and shoulders above any other countries worldwide in terms of the recognition of and engagement with the Chinese consumer market.