- Don-Alvin Adegeest |
Precisely two years ago Bosideng, a Chinese manufacturer of down jackets, closed its store on London’s South Molton Street and ceased UK operations.
At the time the Shanghai-based company cited a lack of return on investment leading it to rent out the property, at least the ground floor, to an unassuming Italian café chain. “We will return to the retail market in the UK, when we see fit,” a spokesperson said at the time.
That return came a year later, with little fanfare and with a store on the second floor in the same tricky-shaped building it previously occupied. Despite having the prestigious Browns Fashion emporium as a neighbour, there was never an expectancy of cross pollinating customers or of a sporadic fashion brigade popping in. Nonetheless, Bosideng did as it said it would, relaunching its UK store and presenting on the official London Fashion Week schedule.
On Sunday, Bosideng took to the catwalk to show its autumn winter 2020 collection at the BFC showspace on the Strand. This comes after it showed in Milan last September, where an expensive casting included Kendell Jenner on the runway and Nicole Kidman on the front row. A year earlier the brand showed in New York.
All of this means Bosideng is serious about boosting its overseas credentials, and it certainly has the financial prowess to do so, citing a turnover of 1,36 billion euros in 2019. It regularly books celebrities to front its advertising campaigns, which have featured actors Tom Hiddleston and Amelia Clarke.
Kudos back home, not abroad
Yet despite its efforts to be globally present, the brand has failed to significantly impress and resonate with an international audience. With just 13.6K followers on its official global Instagram account, its core business remains domestic. Capsule collections with designers Tim Coppens and Ennio Capasa brought it kudos back home, but made no impact in western markets.
It is no myth that Chinese fashion brands resonate domestically when they appear to have a stronghold in Europe and the States. But despite its product being available in 72 countries, Bosideng’s presence is disjointed. This is largely compounded by operating too many domain names across its international websites, removing it of having a singular point of view, as would necessary for boosting the brand’s appeal.
Too many websites, too little connection
In the UK, the company operates Bosidengfashion.com, in Italy Bosident-italy.it and the U.S. bosideng.com. Each of its websites is different, lacking unity in product, descriptions, even layout and fonts. With disparate communication channels and incoherent sales across its customer-facing platforms there is no connection for a global customer to the brand.
It further highlights the struggles of powerful Chinese players who look to the west to boost demand back home and who’s own market may be maturing. Growth in other countries is key to driving its business forward, just as European brands seek Asian expansion to proliferating their growth.
On the catwalk, but it can’t be seen
At the time of its London Fashion Week presentation, there was no livestream on its website or social media accounts. No Instastories of backstage happenings, indeed no sign of any marketing drip feed. On its UK Facebook page its last post in November announced a 50 percent sale.
Perhaps Bosideng doesn’t seek global fashion relevance. Perhaps communicating its latest collection will be shown during London Fashion Week is enough to forge interest back home. The Chinese consumer isn’t likely to know the criteria to show on the London catwalks is not prestigious per se, which requires, at modest calculation, an existing brand and a budget to stage a catwalk show. The kudos here is not the platform of showing, but the collection itself.
A quick search on the hashtag #bosideng saw the company donate 150,000 down jackets to medical workers in Wuhan this month. While there is no mention of this on its Western social media, some news bulletins are worth mentioning
Photo: Bosideng AW20/21, Catwalkpictures