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How French shoe brands conquer China View of the Kerry Center shopping mall in Shanghai, China
09.11.2016 6323

How French shoe brands conquer China

An exhibition stand and pop-up shop of the French Footwear Federation has appeared in one of the most modern shopping malls in Shanghai, Kerry Center. Here, young ladies in Louboutin shoes and Hermes bags are treated to French macaroni and ballet flats produced by the French company Ferrand - such a picturesque picture is described in an article by the Parisian edition of Les Echos.
The success of Christian Louboutin and the premium brand of French ballet shoes Repetto, which have taken a strong position in the Chinese market, today are trying to repeat many French shoe brands, but in the absence of a name in the fashion industry, not everyone succeeds.

Ballerina gait

Sophie Marceau in ShanghaiFrench film actress Sophie Marceau in Shanghai at the celebration of the five-year presence of the Villebois brand in the Chinese market

To enter the Chinese market, the French company Ferrand, whose main specialization is the production of house slippers, decided to release a new product for itself - ballet flats, which have been sold in China since 2012 under the Villebois brand. The company focuses on French origin and 100% French production of these shoes, which are quite simple to make. To support Villebois, the world famous French actress Sophie Marceau was chosen as the face of the brand. It is her photo, sitting on the roof of a Parisian building, that we see on the start page of the website of the French brand, where the prices for ballet shoes are indicated strictly in yuan (the price per pair is 995 yuan, which is equivalent to 132,95 euros). As part of a contract with Villebois, Sophie Marceau wore ballet shoes of this brand, decorated with a three-color ribbon - in the colors of the French national flag - even for Euro 2016 matches.

In fact, Villebois is trying to replicate the success of its predecessor, the French premium brand of ballet flats Repetto, which entered the Chinese market a year earlier and proved to be quite successful. However, Repetto is a brand with a history - ballet flats under this brand have been produced since 1947, they were worn by Brigitte Bardot, and without exaggeration they can be called one of the elements of the famous French style. Today in the Repetto collection there are other models of footwear - pumps, ankle boots, sneakers, but ballet flats are the iconic model of the brand, which has collaborated with Issei Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, Comme des Garçons in its history. Four monobrand boutiques of the brand have been opened in Shanghai. The price for a pair of Repetto ballet flats is 160 -180 euros.

A pair of ballet shoes by the French shoe brand RepettoA pair of ballet shoes by the French shoe brand Repetto

Components of success

The bet on ballet shoes from two French manufacturers at once is not accidental. The French believe that in the absence of a big name for the brand, when entering the Chinese market, it is worth paying attention to the love of the Chinese for comfort. To work on the shape of the shoe in the direction of its convenience, but at the same time, not forgetting about femininity - "in China they love diamonds, rhinestones, and bright colors." In addition, the French Footwear Federation has adopted the idea of ​​100% French production. A "permanent showcase" in the form of a French Style House, which is located in one of the buildings in the center of Shanghai, and will act as an exhibition space and a place for presenting shoe brands to Chinese partners, according to representatives of the French Federation of Shoes, will provide the best support in promoting shoe brands in the market of this country.

“This measure is necessary because the market is so large and the costs of promotion on it are so great that the brand needs to open at least 50 points of sale in order for the venture to pay off,” said Claude Eric Paquin, president of the French Shoe Federation, opening the French Style House.

The assortment presented in the French-style House is quite diverse, ranging from men's and traditional shoe brands such as Heschung, Paraboot, to feminine and fashionable, such as Parallèle. Shoes from Tanya Heath, which released shoes with replaceable heels, the Ernest brand (Crazy Horse shoe line), Elodie Bruno with her wicker shoes and Jordan Dmitrievich with extravagant evening sandals, are also presented here.

According to the head of the French Shoe Federation, in the future it is worth considering placing French multi-brand corners in large department stores in China. Thus, French brands will receive real support. Indeed, for an individual company, promoting the Chinese market is quite an expensive pleasure. For example, the cost of renting an outlet in the center of Shanghai is about 500 thousand euros per year. At the same time, little-known brands are forced to dump and sell their goods at a discount of 60% of the standard retail price. 

However, many French companies do not expect support from local distributors and prefer to act independently. So, the French shoe brand JB Martin owns a network of 22 points of sale in the form of corners in the Isetan and Takashimaya department stores. The women's footwear brand Melow Yellow, a member of the Eram group, has agreed to collaborate with the Golden Eagle network and has opened 12 partners, not in metropolitan areas, but in small Chinese cities, which nonetheless have more than a million inhabitants. The French premium brand Arche holds the palm among French shoe brands in the Chinese market; in China, its products are sold under the Achette brand.

Based on materials from Les Echos.

The French Footwear Federation has opened a French Style House in Shanghai to support their brands in the sophisticated Asian ...
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