PRADA RONG ZHAI

Opened last October, Prada Rong Zhai is a grand and lasting manifestation of Prada’s commitment to Chinese history and culture and the latest of the brand’s extraordinary architectural explorations. Originally owned by Yung Tsonga-King, the villa is one of Shanghai’s finest Western-style villas. Yung Tsoon King (1873-1938) was a self-made Chinese entrepreneur who had a background in Confucianism, and the classics of economy and history. To elevate his family, he decided to go into the Bank sector, and a few years later, in 1896, he established his first joint venture. He was extremely successful and soon became very wealthy.  The house where he used to live, Rong Zhai, is now a symbol of prosperity, which is very positive in China.

PRADA AND ARCHITECTURE

Prada is much more than just a fashion brand. Indeed, the company has always been inspired by all forms of art and has often linked them together to create unique pieces of art. Architecture, for instance, is a way for Prada to express its creativity and innovation, and the parallels and contrasts between these two forms of design have been central to Prada for over a century. For years and years, Prada has expanded its love for architecture, by creating many “Epicenters” in the world.  In New York, Tokyo, Los Angeles, Prada’s influence has expanded from fashion to culture and architecture.  Prada Rong Zhai is the latest investment from the brand to show its passion for many kinds of art.

PRADA AND CHINA

China has always held a valued place for Prada. It was therefore obvious for the brand to open another amazing building in China. The Rong Zhai building, with its history and its commitment to the Chinese culture, was a real evidence for the brand. To revive it, attention to details was key and the collaboration between Italian and Chinese experts results in a truly unique venue where east meets west. The goal was to create a place where art is put on display. To achieve this, the Mansion’s subtleties were preserved, and bling decoration avoided, making this House a real art-piece.

THE PRADA RONG ZHAI COLLECTION

The Prada creations that were displayed at the exhibition mixed Prada’s bold designs with Chinese fashion. For example, visitors could observe Prada “Qipao” dresses, which originate from 1920’s Shanghai and represent typical examples of Chinese fashion; as well as Chinese patterns and symbols such as rabbits which represent the moon. However, there were also more modern pieces, adding to the spirit of past and present which floats at the Manor.  Unique accessories could also be witnessed such as bags where the name of the venue was written, while others bore patterns inspired from the Chinese culture.

To conclude, the opening of Prada Rong Zhai is a symbol of Prada’s commitment to Chinese culture and history. Through this exhibition, Prada affirms once again its passion for all kinds of art by linking Fashion and Architecture in a spectacular manner, paving the way for Shanghai to write the rest of the Mansion’s story.

Dewi DE NORAY – Fiona GUAS – Carole GUIRGUIS – Christopher LOIZANCE

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SHANG XIA

THE PERFECT MATCH BETWEEN FRENCH AND CHINESE LUXURY

Based on the interview of Jo, store manager of Shang Xia Maison, opened in 2007.

We are thankful to Jo who kindly took the time to answer to all our questions and transmitted to us his passion and commitment to work. Shang Xia is a Chinese high-end lifestyle brand.

“The brand was created thanks to the merger between Maison Hermès and Jiang Qiong Er, CEO / Artistic Director of Shang Xia”. Jiang Qiong Er, studied in Paris at the Art Deco School.  This is how she brings in her brand: tradition and modernity, Chinese and Western ways of life. “It’s always the mix of the two:  The association of Chinese culture and western inspirations”.

“Shang Xia has really unique products, that combines high levels of Chinese craftsmanship and French elegancy”.

“One of the most important value of the brand is the craftsmanship, the way of how products are imagined and hand- made.  There is an important dimension of timelessness as well”.

The general ambiance of the Maison offers a loop-hole out of this fast-growing city. When the clients come to the Maison, they know the brand, most of the time they want to discover the new collections of home furniture and ready-to-wear.

Shang Xia is a very intimist and sober brand, everything is well detailed.  The atmosphere of the store is very peaceful and arty, the staging is outstanding.

Keno Kuma is the one who designed this amazing scenery, combining traditional crafts with modern materials and technology.  Inspired by centuries of tradition, Shang Xia is a pride in Chinese craftsmanship and artisanal production.  Shang Xia shows engagement to quality, respect of Chinese cultural references and aesthetic values.

« You have to treat people like your family guest, when they enter into the Maison, clients need to feel at home.  One aspect of the brand experience includes serving high quality teas at the Maison, allowing clients to enjoy a sense of calm and peace.  Also experience the traditional way of life by a special tea ceremony. Offering tea to our clients is a way to show respect and transmit the Chinese culture ».

BALBIANI Audrey – BERARD Tiffany – HOBE Valentine – LAPLAGNE Anouck – NIORE Anastasia

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CHANEL IN CHINA

« What is the retail strategy for Chanel in China?”

Charlotte, Chanel fashion division general manager in China, explained their strategy.  After 9 years in France, she came to Shanghai four years ago to manage the retail strategy in China.

The market for luxury brands in China represents an important part in luxury good sales worldwide.  In fact, in 2012, China surpassed Japan as the world’s largest luxury market. Since then, China has been the target number one of the luxury brands to invest more in this country by implementing more stores in it.  Retailers have been wondering:  should they keep or change the display of their usual stores?  How could they adapt their retail strategy to the Chinese market? Let us focus on Chanel’s strategy, one of the most favorite luxury brand in China. Chanel’s main store is located on the Bund, in Shanghai. In front of the Pearl Tower, you can find the store at the entrance of the Peninsula hotel. Well located, the store is targeting tourists.

Displayed into several parts, you can find all Chanel’s products in this store: jewelries, perfumes, ready-to-wear, shoes, accessories. Moreover, one of the room was designed to «feel like home».  Dedicated for loyal customers or celebrities, we can find that kind of rooms in Chanel’s stores in France. After the interview with Charlotte, we highlighted one big difference between France and China. Chinese customers are considered harder to seduce.  Always connected to their devices, retail strategies must update. As an example, you can find, into the Chanel store, a ready-to-wear room with a screen where the previous fashion shows are displayed.

On another hand Chanel is facing four main challenges. First, the competition. In China, the customers are not loyal, they aren’t looking for a storytelling. This is more difficult for the brand to keep their brand’s DNA if they want to reach the Chinese customers. The governmental taxes are the second big issue.  Because of these taxes, we can find a difference between the prices in France and in China.  A same bag can be sold for 4,200€ in France and 5,300€ in China. In addition to this, the exchange rate is playing an important role, the Chinese economy has slowed substantially in the past two years. Finally, the fight against the fake market is considered as one of the biggest priority for Chanel.  Many people in China wear fake luxury bags and sometimes the imitation is really like an original one.

An article written by Lisa Both-Gatti, Saad Izirri, Elodie Lecué, Anne-Marie Petit and Clémence Romefort.

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SHANGHAI TANG

EXCLUSIVE CHINESE LUXURY OR LUXURY EXCLUSIVELY FOR CHINESE?

For a long time, the Luxury industry has mostly been under the monopoly of Occidental brands & companies. Since several years the Chinese customers have proven themselves to be of increasing importance for the overall market, a real gold mine of clients while historic customers started to represent a smaller part of the global consumption. It was only quite recently that countries like China started to take the matter into their own hands, participating in the emergence of new brands, injecting new blood in the Luxury business. Shanghai Tang was created in 1994 by the Hong Kong originated businessman David Tang.

As if rapidly seeing the potential of this brand willing to revisit the Chinese fashion of the 1920’s and 1930’s, Richemont acquired it only 4 years after its creation. With around 50 boutiques worldwide, and a great number in China, our team was able to visit two of them to investigate in one of its fief, Shanghai. Both in strategic areas for Luxury stores -Middle Huaihai road and Xintiandi, they offer a quite similar experience once inside.

If we expected the store to contain some traditional Chinese inspired clothes, we were quite surprised to realize that it was the case of so many models, accessorizes put aside. Qipao and Frog buttons everywhere, we wandered the store. When we questioned a young Chinese woman outside one of the stores about what she thought of the brand, she seemed quite seduced by it, as many Chinese we asked about later. She qualified the clothes as « trendy » and « stylish » and, though it was inspired by Chinese quite traditional clothes it was also, to her, mixed with « global modernity ». She also enjoyed the guest experience and the interior design of the boutique.

While we also found the inside of the store quite appealing, colorful and a bit Art Déco it is very interesting to highlight the difference of perception between us European and Chinese customers. Where she found the guest experience a clear added value, we felt the saleswomen were way too present, almost invading, and, while it is obvious the clothes are made for modern age, we wouldn’t really say most them can be referred as “global modernity” but more like “revisited Chinese traditional clothes”.  From our perception, these were quality clothes, with nice designs and exotic patterns, but mostly, it would more be a “one time, one piece” experience for us as customers. Is it because of the designs, the customer experience or the lack of pedagogy for foreigners, we do not know. But where Chinese find Shanghai Tang “exquisite”, we can only understand why Richemont decided to sell this interesting brand almost 20 years after acquiring it: this a Chinese Luxury brand, mainly made for Chinese people. It could not quite achieve to reach out to Europeans hearts.

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In 3 words, how would you define luxury?

That’s the question we asked people in the streets in order to understand better the wide Luxury concept. Amongst the words collected from our interviews, we choose to develop 3 dimensions.

HANDCRAFT: It is a set of practices which results of a long apprenticeship. It is the essence of luxury. It is a heritage which evolves thanks to creativity, innovation and the use of new technologies. The luxury sector values the know-how and excellence. Brands are the first to value and highlight their handcrafting in order to differentiate themselves from others and do recognize their specificities. It is the purpose of event such as Les Journées Particulières organized by LVMH or La Journée du Patrimoine Vivant by the Plaza Athénée which highlights French gastronomy and its way of life. Brands make a lot of videos and campaigns show the manufacturing within their workshop. Do you know that a Birkin of Hermès requires 48 hours of manufacturing by a craftsman?

DREAM: Luxury constructs dream. Luxury magazines regularly publish articlesdepicting dream places where you can travel, dream homes you can buy, dream yachts, dream cruises, dream cars, dream watches, etc. Selling dream is actually the essential mission of the luxury sector and its brands.  Translating luxury means taking possession of a dream, an emotion and a desire to escape. A dream world is created around the brand, its past, its codes. It tells stories in which the client wants to enter. The dream is also based in part on a speech of rarity and privileged access to products of a life or moments of exception. But no dream without notoriety. It nourishes desire.  It is the brand itself that activates and embodies the intangible element of dream, symbolic access to a specific universe of privilege.

FRANCE: It’s the most iconic country in this field. France was first known as the Haute-Couture’s birthplace thanks to genius creators like Chanel, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Jean-Paul Gaultier, etc.  French History tells us that France has always had a know-how concerning luxury. The monarchy’s era was a mainstay to the know-how expansion, the Château de Versailles is the perfect proof.
But, luxury cannot be described with only three words. Luxury is style, details, elegance, prestige, experience, moments, passion, emotion, pleasure, refinement, and a lot of other things. But even more, Luxury is an attitude.

By Lisa Both-Gatti, Elodie Lecué, Anne-Marie Petit and Clémence Romefort.

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Luxury in France, a peactime industry

Anyone who has had the privilege of crossing the threshold of a luxury boutique, a palace or a high-end car showroom, has generally had an unforgettable experience. A link is created between the customer’s dream, the promise made by the brand as well as reality. That’s what we call “luxury”.

What’s luxury? It is a timeless phenomenon, a term used in our everyday life. Historically, luxury brands were reserved for the privileged few, the rich and the elite. Nowadays, criteria such as wealth and income are insufficient to segment the luxury market. It strongly depends on the subjective experience and individual needs of the consumer. Luxury is omnipresent, but still rare. Even if the global demand for luxury is increasing, true luxury is always associated to inaccessibility. It is bound to traditions and cultural heritage, but also known for its ability to innovate and to set trends. Its components include exclusivity, product excellence, personal enjoyment and prestige.

What is the perception of luxury in France?

In France, luxury is part of the cultural tradition. Traditional luxury houses have a rich history and a long heritage of exceptional craftsmanship. French people are proud of the long-term luxury history. For consumers, luxury is special and unique. The leaders of luxury in France are LVMH, Kering and L’Oréal Luxe. These groups are composed of diverse categories such as fashion, leather goods and accessories, cars, jewellery and watches, arts, food and exclusive restaurants, luxurious destinations and hotels. Brands have to be as perfect as possible. Total availability, passion for luxury products or services, special attentions, courtesy, recognition and valorisation. Luxury codes are mandatory for brands striving excellence.

Article written by Laureen Baldacchino, Thibaut Lerda, Nogol Nakhai, Lisa Perrein #mbaluxe #efap #essca #decodingluxury

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LUXURY EVISION (evasion and vision)

To define something, we often talk of a vision, a point of view, the way we see it. What if some matters were more complex than that? What if, the real question should be: how do we feel it?  So, when we went to ask people what was luxury for them, we didn’t only ask about their vision, but about how they perceive luxury as a sensorial experience.  It turns out that each sense is solicited by several sectors of the luxury industry. When we asked about luxury and touch, some spoke about the quality, the sensuality of the different materials as leather or silk. We questioned about smell, they answered about the subtlety of High Perfumery, or the smell you could discover while traveling the world. About hearing, the first thing was music, music in itself (Opera, violin…), music as an addition to a universe, to a more global experience as a fashion show or as in a stay at a palace. The sight, of course, where some evoked the aestheticism of Haute Couture, the fashion store displays, the straight lines of minimalism or even some beautiful landscapes. And when we talked about taste, we were not very surprised to hear about French Gastronomy, or little treats as delicate pastries.

But where luxury can evoke dream and positive feelings, it is not always the first thing that comes to people’s minds. Actually, in a more theoretical way, we can say that there are three main attitudes toward luxury, and that, most of the time,  we can divide people opinions in one of those categories*. Elitism, democratization and distance.

When we asked, for instance, Floriane (26) Brigitte (58) and Frédérique (51) what was, in a few words, luxury for them, the  answers were drastically different. When Frédérique talked fondly about pleasure, beauty and rarity (elitism), Floriane, on the  other hand, was more critical. She talked about the waste, after each collection, when some clothes are thrown away (distance). To her, as a consumer, a luxury product needs to be useful, a timeless and minimalist piece. Brigitte was soberer in her words. She envisions luxury as something inaccessible, and isn’t really about materialism. Luxury, for her, lies in the precious and shared moments, more in the experience than in its classy and shiny image, all exclusivity (democratization). Luxury is above all a sophisticated sensorial experience. Exclusive, it doesn’t appear to everyone in the same way, and if it is the stuff of many dreams, it should be careful of the actions that could tarnish its image, or lead to plain frustration.

Alexandra Bessieres, Della Ezzeddine, Laura Gasnier and Aude Guarnieri
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French Luxury is Real Luxury

Perception
Four customers of different nationalities and passionate about Luxury have given their very own perception of Luxury in France.
Perception of Luxury in France varies very much from one person to another. However, although opinions differ on various aspects, everyone does agree on one point: that French Luxury is real Luxury. This perception includes several characteristics. The first one that was often mentioned is the importance and the richness of its know-how. French Luxury is known to have this great ability to transmit its knowledge and proficiency from one talent to another, which allows to perpetuate high quality, but also passion and care through its products. This characteristic is still highly appreciated and valued today, even more since everything is now produced by machines. Then, people also matched this characteristic with high-quality. Indeed, people perceive French luxury products as having the best materials, textures and as being perfect to the very little details. Another important attribute mentioned was the exclusivity: the fact that French luxury products are usually produced in small quantities and that they are not accessible by everyone. This image of exclusivity definitely contributes to build all the prestige around Luxury in France. To go further, it was also mentioned that French Luxury is real Luxury thanks to its enormous heritage. Each brand has its very own strong history which makes it so special and respectable. Last but not least, Luxury in France is perceived as providing innovative designs which are very minimalist, simple, but elegant and chic; definitely not extravagant nor show-off.

However, Luxury in France is also about experiences and not only about experiences in stores. Paris itself, in the eyes of foreigners, is an exceptional experience to them, where they can appreciate the beauty of the streets, the little boutiques and the monuments, making them dream and dive into the world of French Luxury. To go even further, Luxury in France is also a whole culture, full of codes and intangible aspects, that are difficult to grasp for foreigners. This probably emphasizes the mystical aspect of French Luxury, which provides the “Made-in-France” with high psychological influence on the purchase decision of customers. However French luxury is not only about prestige but also about emotions, the main one being pleasure. Today, even though French Luxury may not be different from other countries in terms of products and quality, its intangible assets are undeniably the strength which sustains its recognition worldwide

By Dewi de Noray, Carole Guirguis, Fiona Guias & Christopher Loizance

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French luxury between heritage and innovation

When you think luxury, you think France, Coco Channel and her heritage, you think made in, elegance, Champs-Elysées and Place Vendôme. By defintion luxury is the « character of what is expensive, refined, sumptuous » A universe of desire, pleasure, identification, emotion and serenity. France is the leader of luxury products and services, French brands, French luxury products make people dream, they come from all around the world for French brands.
To personify luxury you think about Catherine Deneuve, people imagine luxury when they think about her, she represents us, she is out of time, out of fashion.
When you think luxury, you think colors, red is one of the most represented color in luxury, formerly it was obtained from purple, a shell very rare and therefore expensive. This is why red is the best-selling color for sports cars, why famous French hotels choose this colors to represent them.
The French luxury market has an excellent image abroad. thanks to many famous houses, often centenarians and renowned for their know-how, the quality of their products but also for their ability to innovate and to persist through the decades, like Hermes, Chanel or Cartier. Since then, the Made in France is an essential element in the design of a luxury product.
In the midst of luxury jewelry, stones make all the beauty of a jewel. Gold is certainly one of the most expensive materials in the world, but jewelry with precious stones give a rare and unique side. For example Le Hope (or Le Bleu de France) (200 million $) The largest blue diamond ever discovered today, it is the second most visited art object in the world (at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington) behind the Mona Lisa. Sales of perfumes have been falling since 2015, in the « selective », it’s the lipsticks (70 million €) and the face’s powders that help to increase its market share. Some perfums keep their place in the market for example : Lancôme (La vie est belle), Dior (J’adore), Guerlain (La Petite Robe Noire), mainly luxury brand products but perfumes market had only increase 0,2% of sales last year.
People are coming in Paris for our French « Art de vivre », where parisian people live ? Rive gauche or Rive droite. In which kind of appartement Parisian people live ? Haussmannien or design one. It’s a way of living, an attitude. That is why they like our palaces, and luxury hotels, they want excellent services, and to be out of time. That’s why they are going to Shangri-la or Peninsula Palace for example. Or why they are going to Courchevel, it’s the most expensive ski resort in Europe, all the greatest chefs open restaurants there. They count 16 five stars hotels and 2 palaces. This is what means luxury for a lot of people.    France is always one of the best in every sector, and for sure in gastronomy and wine. France is the second world producer of caviar after Italy, what about wine and spirit (world market represents 66 billion € in 2016), French exportation is around 11,9 billion €. The fact is for Champagne brands, they are good in marketing and communication, packaging and cobranding. It allows them to sell a lot of products even if the Champagne is not the most expensive of all the luxury products.
France Luxury is not well represented in some areas, particularly in luxury car industry. There are no luxury brands car, Citroen, Peugeot or Renault are important brands, some of their cars could have the chance to be considered as « luxury cars » but there are too many differences between French cars and luxury German ones.

By Saad Izirri – Julie Arthuys – Tiffany Bérard

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From exclusivity to democratization

French Luxury gathers different sectors: jewelry,  high fashion, cosmetics, hospitality, boats and restaurants. These are being recognized by the French know-how with our 165 000 artisans and our exceptional products. The historical French expertise and the origin of the products represents THE « Made in France ». French brands want to preserve the skills, highlighting the craftsmanship and their traditional manufacturing techniques. The French Luxury is an essential reference in high-end products that are recognized throughout the world: it combines excellence and elegance. This is why every artisan is rewarded: a good Chef can have a Michelin Star, a designer can be highlighted for his/her creations… It is always about the French Culture. Furthermore, French Luxury means creation and nothing can be created without a Creative Director; Coco Chanel, Pierre Balmain, Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld, Olivier Rousteing, John Galliano… Are considered as Gods in high fashion and amaze us with more and more imagination and incredible fashion shows. It is allowing clients to dream and escape into a wonderful private world. But… Luxury brands have changed significantly over the years… Initially luxury was reserved to an elite, seeking of exclusivity and privacy. This notion has changed due to the democratization of luxury and a strong demand. It is not an “intimate world” anymore. Consumers of luxury are multiplying with the emergence of a new generation that asserts itself: the 18-30 years called the Y generation happens to be the biggest consumers of luxury.

Furthermore, celebrities / influencers represent a huge part of a luxury brand’s image. Today, thanks to the social networks, it is easier to associate a famous personality to a brand. They are Instagraming / Snapping / Tweeting everything about their lives and the way they shop. The more they have luxury items the more they feel accomplished and the more they will talk about it. Brands are using celebrities for branding. It is all about being in the spotlight and show off. The brand’s reputation is reflected by personalities who do not really believe in traditional codes. However, it could be controversial since people do not necessarily want to associate Nabilla to Jean Paul Gaultier’s creations for example. From now on, brands are moving away from the original codes that built them and made them create their circle of most loyal customers. Since several years, we live in an era of digitalisation, which became the ultimate challenge. This is why the luxury services are developing this aspect and are now connected. Moreover, this has been amplified by the use of ambassadors, supermodels, actors… To develop the branding on social networks. The French Luxury is reinventing itself. The idea being to stand out, a luxury brand makes every effort to prove its difference. Today French luxury is unexpected and is allowed to combine the language of art and eccentricity to seduce the youngest…

the_infamous_luxe

 

By Audrey Balbiani, Valentine Hobé, Anouck Laplagne, and Anastasia Nioré

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