French classical wear danc­ing up a storm on the main­land

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE - By EMMAGONZALEZ

The ex­pan­sion of bal­let stu­dios in China is en­cour­ag­ing French bal­let clothes man­u­fac­tur­ers to in­tro­duce their premium de­signs to a boom­ing mar­ket with the help of lo­cal dis­trib­u­tors.

For­mer pro­fes­sional bal­let dancer Christophe Ridet re­calls that his bal­let wear com­pa­nyWearMoi first started with the pur­chase of a sew­ing ma­chine in Hong Kong in 1991, while he was on tour there with his wife.

When the French dancer re­tired a year later he de­cided to put the sew­ing ma­chine to good use, to cre­ate cus­tom­ized bal­let and mu­si­cal-re­lated clothes for his wife and other pro­fes­sional dancers.

Nowa­days, Wear Moi is present in more than 50 coun­tries, hav­ing en­tered the Chi­nese main­land mar­ket in April 2014 with the help of lo­cal dis­trib­u­torWeimo Bal­let.

The French brand, which is ex­pand­ing fast in China through an on­line store, is see­ing that leo­tards re­main the most pop­u­lar prod­uct in their main­land cus­tomer’s shop­ping bas­kets. Clara Chan,

Ad­di­tion­ally, the com­pany notes that its light grey bal­let clothes are a hot-sell­ing item in the coun­try as Asian women be­lieve that it en­hances their hair and skin tone.

This year, the com­pany forecasts a healthy 30-40 per­cent in­crease in rev­enues.

“The in­crease in sales is not just a re­flec­tion of more peo­ple prac­tic­ing bal­let, it also shows that more bal­let dancers are spend­ing a higher amount of money on premium clothes,” ex­plained Christophe Ridet, founder ofWearMoi. “It is still a very promis­ing mar­ket”.

For Wear Moi, the adop­tion of bal­let as an al­ter­na­tive work­out and the fact that an in­creas­ing num­bers of bal­let stu­dios in China are opt­ing to use im­ported brands for their uni­forms, are help­ing to drive sales up.

Em­maWang, di­rec­tor of the Beijing-based Morn­ing Star Bal­let stu­dio, notes that the mar­ket for bal­let clothes has changed dra­mat­i­cally in the last few years thanks to the ad­di­tion of new for­eign brands.

“When I was a pro­fes­sional dancer 20 years ago, it was re­ally hard to find bal­let wear in China,” she said.

“Our school or the bal­let com­pany had to pro­vide the clothes for us. We could only buy our own clothes if we trav­eled abroad. Now pro­fes­sional and am­a­teur dancers have plenty of op­tions to choose from,” Wang added.

French prêt-a-porter com­pany Repetto en­tered the Chi­nese mar­ket in Novem­ber 2014 with the in­au­gu­ra­tion of its first shop in Shang­hai helped by Swire Re­sources, its ex­clu­sive dis­trib­u­tor in the coun­try.

Repetto now has six stores in China, is dis­trib­uted in Shang­hai, Beijing and Chengdu and has signed part­ner­ship agree­ments with bal­let schools in these cities to pro­mote its brand.

Look­ing ahead, the com­pany plans to ex­pand the num­ber of stores to meet the grow­ing de­mand for bal­let cloth­ing in the coun­try.

“The first Repetto out­let store opened in Shang­hai Vil­lage near Dis­ney­land”, noted ClaraChan, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Swire Re­sources. “We are ac­tively in­ves­ti­gat­ing good and suit­able lo­ca­tions for po­ten­tial newRepetto stores.”

Al­though Repetto sells a wide a range of prod­ucts in China, in­clud­ing dance wear and con­ven­tional city bags and shoes, the French brand’s time­less Cen­drillon bal­le­rina pointe shoes re­main its most pop­u­lar item in stores in the main­land.

Ad­di­tion­ally Repetto notes that other bal­let clothes, such as mous­se­line skirts and leg­warm­ers, are also pop­u­lar among adult women in China.

“We do see the po­ten­tial de­mand for af­ford­able lux­ury prod­ucts and bal­let prod­ucts”, ex­plained Chan. “Con­sumers know more in­ter­na­tional brands and are also seek­ing more unique and per­son­al­ized shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ences.”

This year rev­enues gen­er­ated by Repetto’s dance prod­ucts, in­clud­ing bal­let wear and pointe shoes, have been grow­ing at more than 60 per­cent in China com­pared to last year.

And the com­pany is op­ti­mistic about the fu­ture, as more women in China are learn­ing bal­let for ei­ther artis­tic rea­sons or to lose weight and cor­rect pos­ture.

Con­sumers know more in­ter­na­tional brands and are also seek­ing more unique and per­son­al­ized shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ences.” a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Swire Re­sources

REUTERS

An em­ployee works on bal­le­rina Cen­drillon shoes at the pro­duc­tion work­shop in the Repetto fac­tory in Saint-Medard d'Ex­cideuil, south­west­ern France.

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