Everyone wants a piece of the Chinese market right now, but in spite of the fact that American Apparel’s first store in Beijing is one of the company’s most profitable outposts, chief executive and mustache enthusiast Dov Charney says the company has had a bit of trouble expanding in that market. Apparently, it takes a sophisticated consumer to appreciate what he’s offering, and wealthy Chinese just haven’t learned to love his shiny gold leggings yet.
Charney says he thinks a big part of the issue is that his clothes don’t have obvious luxury logos, and he seems to think the tastes of people in China just haven’t matured enough to like his logoless clothes yet.
“You see that with the Jews in the 1950s. At first, they want to show they got the money… over time people reject brands,” Charney said in an interview with QZ. He’s hoping that over time consumers in China will become more sophisticated and learn to appreciate the subtle beauty of foil-printed bandeau tops.
“They’ll learn it’s a little déclassé to show the brand,” said Charney. “As people mature and become more comfortable with themselves… they’ll become more interested in design and the cache of the brand.”
Charney told the interviewer that his mother had taught him it was “classless” to show branding. Weird, porny ad campaigns are sophisticated as heck, though.
China is currently the world’s top consumer of luxury goods, and American Apparel is definitely a luxury good in China. Because it’s made in the U.S., it’s taxed very heavily. Prices are about half again as expensive as they are in U.S. stores, which has effectively priced it out of its normal market and into much higher-end waters.
“In my unofficial survey of American Apparel in China, it is still super niche,” said Philana Woo, associate publisher of Jing Daily. “The same hipster subset that could afford American Apparel in the U.S. could not in China.”
Via Shanghaiist/Photo: American Apparel