Fashion boutique The Webster plays it safe with China

By Xu Junqian in Shanghai | China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-05-26 11:26

Despite receiving a high volume of orders from China, multi-brand fashion boutique The Webster will not be opening a physical store in the country any time soon, said the company's CEO Laure Heriard Dubreuil.

"It's not that the market isn't mature enough or ready (to accommodate The Webster), but I am not mature enough (to take The Webster to China)," said Heriard Dubreuil ahead of the launch of her site's new collection in Shanghai earlier this month.

The Frenchwoman added that she is still "taking baby steps" and learning about one of the world's largest and fastest-growing fashion markets.

For now, fans of the fashion boutique can look forward to the brand's curated selection of products at Lane Crawford outlets. The Webster announced in early May that it is collaborating with the 167-year-old luxury retailer to release an exclusive collection of apparel and lifestyle products in the chain's outlets across the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong, as well as on its online platform.

The collection will feature products from more than 20 brands, including Coach, Sonia Rykiel, Thom Browne, Vilebrequin and Proenza Schouler.

Independent fashion boutiques have been on the rise in China since 2013, the year Lane Crawford made an emphatic comeback in the Chinese mainland following a seven-year hiatus.

Over the three years till 2016, there have been more than 1,000 omni-channel retailers sprouting across China, according to industry observer Fashion Trend Digest. Analysts said the industry has grown so rapidly in the past few years that it has now hit a saturation point that Western markets would have taken decades to reach.

However, Heriard Dubreuil is nonetheless confident that her curated selection of fashion and lifestyle products can stand out in the competitive market. She cited the nature of China's consumers as a possible reason for success.

"They are so feminine and eager to try different things," said Heriard Dubreuil, comparing Shanghai women to their French and US counterparts who she labeled as "understated" and "well-groomed" respectively.

Born into a family that produces the Remy Martin cognac, Heriard Dubreuil was enrolled in the only high school in France that teaches Mandarin. She developed an interest in China following her interactions with her Mandarin teacher who is from Shanghai.

Heriard Dubreuil spent several years shuttling between Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong before attending New York's Fashion Institute of Technology and earning a degree in merchandising in the 1990s.

She is credited with bringing The Webster to new heights of success - the brand now has four boutiques in the US - despite the challenges posed by the sweeping e-commerce trend. In October, she was invited to speak about her experience as a retailer at a summit in Beijing.

Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349