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Made in China. With Style.

While they may still not yet be designed in China (with a few notable exceptions such as home-grown fashion brand, Jefen [1]), luxury consumer goods are increasingly being made there. As Asia Times put it in a recent article:

The trend is set to continue, and the World Luxury Association has estimated that 60 percent of the world’s luxury brands will manufacture in China by 2009.

Asia Times also notes an Ernst & Young report that says luxury goods sales in China in 2004 were US$2 billion, putting China in third place after Japan and the US. With growth of 20 percent estimated to 2008, and 10 percent a year to 2015, sales could reach US$11.5 billion – and I assume this does not include what well-to-do Chinese buy when on overseas business and shopping trips (see more consumer wealth and spending information here [2] and here [3]).

So, which of your favorite brands are taking the China route? Pierre Cardin, Burberry, Armani, Prada and Furla are all reported to be in the frame. Louis Vuitton denies claims that they are there, while Prada seems to be going for a “Made by Prada” rather than a “Made in China” message.

There are certainly challenges for the luxury end of the market, and quality control is critical, but it is clear that China will see more and more high-end production coming its way (as is already the case for expensive violins [4]). Lower cost does not have to mean lower quality.

And, while much of what is made may eventually stay in the country, the luxury foreign brands should be warned against adopting double standards for local and international markets. As we already know, the Chinese consumer can be demanding [5] – especially when it comes to being given respect.

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