Melissa Twigg

Melissa Twigg

Melissa Twigg is an award-winning British journalist getting over a serious case of geographical commitment phobia. After 12 years of living in Paris, Cape Town and Hong Kong, she recently returned to

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The future of fashion may be tier-2 Chinese cities
Buddhism and Hermès are unlikely bedfellows, but a former monastery in Chengdu has become a center for selfies and handbags, thanks to the brightly lit Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li mega-mall.  While the pandemic has contributed to China’s role as a future fashion leader, with cities to rival Paris and Milan, that doesn’t mean all the attention should be focused on Shanghai. Far from it, in fact. While Western luxury brands have traditionally poured all of their resources into securing the best sites in Chinese international hubs, these cities are becoming saturated and cripplingly expensive.  The next big frontier arguably lies in capturing the market in so-called tier-two and tier-three cities. “G
Instagram crashes through China's Great Firewall to woo wealthy shoppers
Banned in China but popular among the country’s elite, American-owned social media site Instagram is a ‘gold mine’ for international brands to reach the country’s luxury shoppers, according to experts. Launched in 2010, Instagram is part of a long list of websites and apps banned by the Chinese government. Facebook, Google and Twitter were blocked, followed a few years later in 2014 by Instagram. In its place, Chinese-owned social media sites have sprung up, gaining millions of followers for a local audience. But experts believe that many international brands are missing out on the vast captive audience of some of the richest, most sophisticated customers in the country, as Instagram has ris
Alibaba trounces Amazon in the world of high fashion
Amazon is the pre-eminent e-commerce company in the world, and its decades of supremacy in America have turned its founder Jeff Bezos into the world’s richest man.  But despite flirting with high fashion – the giant e-commerce company ran its first fashion advert in 2012 – Amazon clothing has been more “brandless fleece coat” than “embellished high-fashion catwalk.” Luxury fashion, almost uniquely among retail sectors, has been largely untouched by the online giant. Not for much longer – according to Amazon, anyway. In the US last month, the mega platform launched its latest bid for the luxury market with a glossy new designer section. Brands can create their own digital online boutiques wi
Fashion brands no longer see Hong Kong as bridge to 1.4 billion consumers
Make it in Hong Kong and you might just break into China. This unofficial business plan has served international fashion brands well for the last decade. But in a shift that could prove seismic for the city’s fashion industry, brands with little to no presence in Greater China are increasingly bypassing Hong Kong and making Shanghai or Beijing their first port of call. As a city that European and American brands identify with in terms of culture, language and shopping habits, Hong Kong has long benefited from its reputation as a China-light launch pad. Lane Crawford, which is headquartered in Hong Kong, has long been the first stop for foreign designers hoping the crack the China code.  The
Can Chinese fashion labels achieve global success?
China buys, produces and exports most of the world’s clothing, but most Western consumers would struggle to name a Chinese fashion brand. This begs the question: why are Chinese labels still struggling to find the spotlight? Xiaofeng Gu, a fashion marketing expert living between San Francisco and Shanghai, believes the absence of Chinese designers from the global fashion stage comes down to a combination of complacency and high cultural barriers. “China’s domestic market is so big that many brands are simply not motivated to make a global expansion,” he says. “Marketing to Western audiences is another challenge – I have seen a few shows staged by Chinese fashion brands at major fashion weeks
Big name fashion labels move manufacturing out of China
Since the start of Donald Trump’s presidency, famous brand names such as Uniqlo, Levi’s, Crocs, Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger have moved their entire manufacturing base out of China. Politics is not the only factor – rising labor costs and an increasing reluctance in China to produce low-cost goods were prompting the sourcing caravan to move on even before the trade war began. But there is no doubt Trump sped up their departure. “There is a real sense of panic,” says Sean Coxall, the president of solutions at Hong Kong-based supply chain manager Li & Fung. “We have been working with key customers on a backup plan since Trump came into office, and any company that did not do this in advance
Why China doesn’t keep up with the Kardashians (or Hadids)
A lack of connection combined with a series of cultural faux pas – and maybe just a touch of arrogance – are costing American social media influencers big when it comes to cracking China. In October last year Kim Kardashian joined Little Red Book (aka Xiaohongshu), a Chinese content and shopping platform that has more than 100 million users. The site's KOLs (key opinion leaders) are extremely powerful, directing consumers straight to the shopping pages. Kardashian has a mere 171,000 followers on the site, a far cry from the 135 million she has on Instagram, which is banned in China. Similarly, American model Karlie Kloss has 394,000 followers on the Chinese site compared to 8 million on Inst