DIA Communications insider scoop on Chinese fashion

Tube Showroom

WGSN sat down with Zemira, the founder of DIA Communications and Tube Showroom, to chat about how she got started, China’s 2019 economy and consumer insight into the Chinese fashion retail market.

Representing some of China’s leading independent designers, the company is locally known as one of Shanghai Fashion Week’s buzziest sales showrooms for China’s independent design talent.

When was DIA Communications founded? What about Tube Showroom? How has the market changed since then?

We registered our company at the end of December 2014. In October 2015 we held our first Tube Showroom at Mode Shanghai Fashion Week. At the time, showrooms and multi-brand stores were quite new, but evolution and growth since then has been incredibly rapid. When we started, the buyers would try everything with their whole team, now they are very clear about what works their customers. Before, they might spend three hours looking at each brand, now it’s around 30 minutes.


What do you have planned for 2019?

In 2019, we should be opening a more fixed or longer term location for our showroom. Online we plan to launch our own Chinese online ordering system to make it easier for our buyers and staff. We have purchased international systems before, but since the server is overseas and the site is only in English, this provides a pain point for everyone.


How do you think the economy will affect China’s fashion industry in 2019?

Overall the business outlook for 2019 is not that positive. From our perspective based on our October 2018 buying appointments for the S/S 19 season there was a noticeable change in buying behaviour. The buyers were more conservative with what they chose to buy. They opted for pieces that offered more style mileage.

But, you know according Chinese language, economic crisis, is a combination of the word ‘wei’ meaning danger and ‘ji’ meaning opportunity. So, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Change always means there is new possibility.

In this sort of climate, the entire fashion industry has new opportunities for growth, whether it’s a yet to be realised retail channel, brands or sales models.


Which brands in your showroom are currently the most popular among buyers?

Short Sentence is one of the best selling brands. The designer previously worked at a commercial brand for three years before launching their brand, so they have a very strong sense of product and their market positioning.

For a more independent designer look, Shushu Tong is popular. The performs well, but has a strong, distinctive signature look.  In terms of brands to watch, Ming Ma’s feminine look, easy to wear silhouettes and colour usage is on our radar.

Otherwise for menswear Staffonly is our top performer. They are able to able to express their design aesthetic with precision, but at the same time they have balanced this with commercial appeal.


Outside of Shanghai, what are China’s future fashion capitals?

For me, I think Chengdu is a fashion city to watch. Traditionally this city’s shopping behaviour is known for their love of lifestyle, beauty and fashion. They also have strong purchasing power that enables them to spend money on beautiful things they are known to have a strong appreciation for.

More stores are opening there or considering the city as a retail location.


How have Chinese fashion shoppers changed in recent years? Are there new categories they are spending on?

Chinese fashion shoppers are becoming more and more savvy as shoppers. The gap between international and domestic trend adoption is becoming shorter. Now, they are more willing to Chinese brands who can be quite price competitive since there is no import tax.

Even when the economy is not doing great, people want to look amazing. One of the categories to watch for spending is beauty. Locally this is referred to as the ‘lipstick economy’. Over the last few years consumers’ purchasing power has risen, but the price of luxury lipstick has essentially stayed the same. For the price of a meal you can buy an affordable piece of luxury.

Like this post? WGSN subscribers can read more our Buyers’ Briefing Newness A/W 19/20: China Edit.

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