Gao Dekang, founder of Bosideng, will use the top floor of his new London building as a personal residence.
Between tourism, high taxes at home, and readily available, convenient payment infrastructures, shopping for luxury goods in the West is the most appealing way for Chinese consumers to, well, buy Western. Of course, another part of that puzzle is the appeal of Western luxury brands themselves. Now, one Chinese label is taking advantage of that fact by opening a landmark new store in London.
Bosideng both produces garments for other labels (specializing in down jackets) and operates an eponymous brand in China, which has about 10,000 stores. Their own jackets are high quality and under-priced compared to big name brands. Having just hired two British designers, Nick Holland and Ash Gangotra, and opening its first location in Europe, the label is about to be re-branded as Bosideng London.
Sounds like a simple, if unusual, leap from East to West, right? Well, no. The brand is virtually unknown outside China. And between buying out a former pub in the London location and constructing a contemporary version of the iconic Flatiron building, the company founder, Gao Dekang, spent about $54 million. Does he expect to make back that investment from a sole British store? No.
Instead, he seems to be the first Chinese entrepreneur taking advantage of his country’s consumer appetite for high-end foreign fashion. The plan is incredibly smart — by opening a London outpost, he’s repositioning Bosideng as a label with an international presence. Sure, it will have to prove itself to Londoners (and then do the same in Milan and New York, where Dekang plans to open stores next) but in the meantime, the international move will almost certainly positively influence Chinese shoppers at home.
If Dekang’s plan works, we can almost certainly expect a wave of Chinese brands opening up shop in New York, London, and Paris. Let’s hope they put up buildings as architecturally notable as the one Bosideng just completed on the British High Street.