Tag Archives: globalization

Rise Of New Chinese Collector Continues As Chinese Antiquities Remain “Recession Proof”

Astronomical Prices Paid For Historical And Quality Pieces In Recent Asian Auctions Defies Global Economic Woes As More Chinese Collectors Get In The Game

In October, Sotheby's will put on a large-scale sale of Asian art in Hong Kong. Will The New Chinese Collector continue to flex his (or her) muscles at that sale?

Since good works by historical artists like Yue Minjun are becoming more scarce, Chinese collectors are expected to continue to flex their muscles in upcoming auctions of Chinese contemporary art

Hardly any industry has escaped the global economic slowdown unscathed, and art is no exception, but recent auction results indicate that the art market — or at least pockets of the art market — are coming back to life. As the Wall Street Journal reports today, in some recent auctions some pieces have sold for exponentially more than their estimates, surprising collectors and market analysts alike. The common bond shared by most of these pieces? They were Chinese — or, if not Chinese, Asian:

Last week, the longest string of Asian art sales since the Zodiac clock dispute was held in the U.S.—and amid the most entrenched art-market recession in nearly two decades, the auction prices of many more than a handful of pieces went through the roof. At the Sotheby’s sale of works from the collection of Arthur M. Sackler, for example, the auctioneer sang out fast-rising numbers, first in English, then Chinese, as if he were rising in the elevator of some fantastically tall Hong Kong skyscraper.

The emergence of the New Chinese Collector is a subject we’ve followed pretty much since our inception, and is a subject that is endlessly fascinating simply because it’s such a new phenomenon. While, technically, Chinese people have collected art for a few thousand years — with the exception of a few Mao-era decades where the practice was virtually nonexistent but for a few elite art lovers here and there — the New Chinese Collector has only existed for around 20 years, and arguably even less than that. This collector base was out in full force in recent auctions of Chinese and other Asian art — in New York, London and Hong Kong — and the motivation, desire and intensity of the Chinese collector is becoming somewhat legendary right before our eyes.

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Fashion: From “Made In China” To “Owned By China”

Acquisition Of High-Profile Western Brands By Chinese Companies Gives Chinese Designers And Brands Broader Distribution Base

Pierre Cardin has become one of the most recognizable and coveted foreign brands in China since entering the market in 1978. Photo (c) CRI English

Pierre Cardin was recently acquired by a Chinese fashion company, boosting the popular brand's reach in the China market. Photo (c) CRI English

In the wake of the global economic crisis, several Chinese companies have gone on global shopping sprees, spurred by the one-two punch of a drop in luxury consumption in developed markets and a motivation to control the sale of high-profit luxury goods inside the Chinese mainland. Although China, as the world’s most populous nation, has a massive consumer base, much of that base remains far below the income level of regular luxury consumers, meaning domestic companies often experience a difficult conundrum — if they want to tap into the wallets of China’s 1.3 billion consumers, they generally have only two real choices — toss brand equity aside and focus on the lowest-price-point consumer or bring a foreign brand with much higher brand equity to China and target the emerging middle class and wealthy consumers. As a result, the transition from local to global (or maybe more accurately, glocal), seems natural. In the capitalism-on-speed world of China’s major metropolitan areas, either you go global or you’re crushed by your competitors.

This week, the subject of Chinese companies purchasing established western fashion brands was raised in a Reuters article (via Canada’s Financial Post), which focused on the delicate balance some major Chinese companies are dealing with at the moment — whether to try to purchase distressed foreign brands to sell in the brands’ existing established markets or simply to buy the brands then control them as they please within the Chinese market. There is no guarantee that consumers in developed markets will bounce back from the recession to spend as freely on luxury goods and haute couture as they once did, but at the same time the majority of Chinese consumers are not in the market for these goods. Additionally, Chinese fashion companies may not yet have the management experience necessary to oversee a western brand (or its employees) in its usual markets, so time will probably be necessary for Chinese companies to work out the kinks that would emerge down the road if they were to focus too strongly on overseas markets.

According to some sources — such as the exporter interviewed in the Reuters article — Chinese companies shopping for western fashion brands would be better off counting on the continued growth of the Chinese middle class, as this area should see sustained growth that may outpace the rebound of the consumer in developed countries.

After decades of Made-in-China garments, China’s fashion industry is keen to move on from being just a mass manufacturer of clothes. It now wants to own western brands and to sell them to China’s 1.3 billion consumers.

The right to sell brands of several international fashion labels locally, such as Aquascutum and Pierre Cardin, have been recently acquired by Chinese clothes makers and sellers.

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