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Selling the stars of tomorrow

By Zhao Xu ( China Daily ) Updated: 2013-11-11 07:31:16

Selling the stars of tomorrow

Luxury giants tap into mainland market

Selling the stars of tomorrow

 They don't make things like they used to

By banking on the growing domestic popularity of Chinese designers, overseas-based department and multi-brand stores are building a new platform for local talents who, despite their rising fame, are still struggling to expand their businesses.

"At the moment, Galeries Lafayette is the only department store (in Beijing) selling my work," said Liu Qingyang, a Beijing-based designer, who studied at London's Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design. "I previously approached a local, high-end store, but was bluntly told that they didn't have any room for a newcomer."

The rejection came despite the fact that Liu, who often goes under her English name Christine, can count herself as one of the most promising, high-profile young Chinese designers, and is rapidly achieving star status thanks to extensive media coverage.

For Jiang Yi, a local designer who, despite almost 15 years in the business is still reluctant to open his own store-in-a-store, the problem is one of simple economics.

"For any independent designer, the threshold for entering a major department store is prohibitively high. None of the preferential treatment given by department stores to their star tenants - the big household brands - will be available to us. As independent designers we are asked to go through a maddeningly strict approval process, and we have to surrender a higher percentage of our monthly income to the store than the established brands," he said. "This is especially true for local department stores. In foreign-owned ones, the policy is much more flexible, and I might say humane."

In addition to Liu, Galeries Lafayette's Beijing store has opened its arms to a handful of budding designers. One of them, Gao Yang, also known as Simon Gao for his eponymous brand, has launched a special collection that will be sold exclusively in the store.

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