Judith Sun (Lee Cooper China): “Denim has definitely become important.”
In the casual jeans hall of Chic in Beijing, running from March 26 to 29, Lee Cooper is neighbors to Tom Tailor as well as many Chinese brands. Judith Sun, Adidas veteran and vice-president of Lee Cooper China, talked with us in an interview.
FashionMag.com: How is the denim market doing?
Judith Sun: Denim has definitely become important. Mainstream brands such as Lee and Levi’s have been in China for twenty years. We have a 100-year-old brand that came here in the 1990s, but it wasn’t doing very well. We are the third licensee of Lee Cooper and we have been since 2011.
FM: Did the major brands arrive too early in China? Did growth suddenly become complicated?
JS: Twenty years ago, the Chinese did not understand jeans as a fashion statement. It was not a part of the fashion silhouette. With this generation, in the know and on the Internet, the cultural shift has happened. This is a good time for local and international denim brands. But for us, the competitors are still the foreigners with Levi's and Lee in the lead.
FM: And the potential in China for a brand like Lee Cooper?
JS: We have already opened 50 single brand stores with 80 to 200 square meters retail space and are aiming for 400-square-meter stores by 2015. Look at Adidas. It has more than 6,000. Consumers here are ready to buy denim, maybe three, four pairs a year. Some collect them. For the market, we are relatively expensive with a sale price for a pair ranging from 600 to 1,000 RMB, or about 70 euros. And this year we are also setting up our virtual shop on Taobao.
FM: And this trade fair?
JS:For us, this is a first. We already did Novomania in Shanghai. But Chic, it has a long history and it is influential for the whole market. Here we are looking for franchise partners and department stores. The visitors are very different from the European shows, such as Bread & Butter. We also doing Chic Young Blood in October because, despite our hundred years of history, we want to support young rock talent and show off our contemporary direction.
FM: So, are there few multibrand buyers at the trade shows?
JD: In Europe, the independent ones are there and they go to the shows. In China, they will come. But in the meantime, there’s a place for us with our network of monobrands.
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