China Paradigm interviewed Vivian Chang, founder, and CEO at Crush Collection, to learn first-hand what it takes to build a successful fashion brand in China.
Vivian Chang, a fashion expert conquering China
Raised in Taipei, Taiwan, Vivian studied design and fashion in Los Angeles where she graduated from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising.
Then she moved to Shanghai where she created her own brand Crush Collection. First exclusively sold in China, it now has sales outlets all over the world: Beijing, Shanghai, New York, and Sweden.
Vivian strongly believes that someone’s fashion and dress style can show a lot about their personality and way of thinking.
Crush Collection, an inspiring fashion brand in China, using high-quality cashmere
Crush collection is an apparel brand based in Shanghai which uses only the most premium Mongolian textiles with the aim of “liberating winter fashion from the heaviness towards a comfortable, understated elegance.”
Today Crush collection employs about ten people, and its income is spread over two seasons: latest season had about 18 million RMB in retail revenue.
Vivan Chang’s strategic idea was to develop the t-shirt, a very trendy garment at that time in China, in a different format. But how can you wear a t-shirt in all circumstances? That’s when the idea of cashmere came up:
“China was the biggest cashmere producing country. So cashmere in China is easier to have access to. I then realized that cashmere is actually the best material to wear directly on the skin. It is very soft, and it keeps you warm.”
Today Crush Collection sells its Cashmere t-shirts all over the world and even in the famous Lane Crawford boutiques.
How to find suppliers in China?
It can be tough to find the right factory in China to execute your request. For Vivian Chang, it was a challenge because she wanted to work with cashmere in a different, singular way. She first worked with small independent factories all over Shanghai and then started working with more massive, more professional factories:
“I think if you work with the smaller factories, the communication has to be more frequent and then you have to check all the time to make sure that they are doing what you want them to do. If you are working with bigger factories their team is also more professional; then we have less communication issue.”
According to Vivian Chang, it is better to be an expert in your sector when dealing with a textile factory in China: it is not enough to bring the design you want. You have to be able to explain correctly, with the right terms and all the details they need. It is also much more flexible to operate from China. It’s easier to communicate, to meet and to compare the different offers, especially when you know that some small factories sometimes don’t even use emails.
Fashion retail in China: Selling products in multi-brands stores can be difficult
Crush Collection is now sold in 70 stores around the world. However, many of them are multi-brand stores, which means that several brands are sold in the same departments. Vivian Chang explains how to make a success of her fashion retail strategy in China among the competitors.
- Choose the right shops
Amid hundreds of other clothes in China, your brand must stand out. To do this, it is necessary to pay attention to the choice of multi-brands stores: prefer stores which only want to work with a brand that has a specific function. For example, Crush Collection has cashmere, other brands have jeans or shoes that may not conflict with what they have.
- Sales training
To make sure that the sales staff understand your fashion brand in China, that they know how to talk about your garments correctly, Vivian Chang advises training salespeople on each new collection.
- Offer excellent quality
In a multi-brands shop, people exactly know how to choose clothes: they know which fabric is softer, which one is delicate, that’s why the first thing that must always be emphasized in your product is its quality.
The brand’s vision or promise is less critical at this point, people just must want to wear the fabric you offer them:
[bctt tweet=”I want people to like what they buy; I want them to really feel like “Oh this is really a good sweater; I like it, I want to wear it”. Without this mission, I would never start an apparel brand in China.” username=”@DaxueConsulting”]
The next steps for Crush collection is to continue to leverage e-commerce platforms in China, which is a real challenge for Vivian who wants to offer a smooth and seamless user experience to her clients:
“So the customers can feel as good on my website as they do in the stores, I have to deliver the same experience”.
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