ENK trade show gives brands access to rising Chinese markets

Retail opportunities continue to rise in China, and ENK International is seeking to make its mark. China’s apparel market is currently worth around $200 billion, and clothing brands are taking notice and taking action, reported WWD.

ENK recently launched its very first trade show, held in Beijing this past March, and is already planning the next installment. The affair, named ENKUSA to signal it is based on U.S. brands, will happen again from March 26 to 29, 2012. Taking place under the umbrella of China International Clothing and Accessories Fair, which draws in excess of 100,000 attendees, the event seeks to give contemporary brands access to markets in China. At ENKUSA, vendors were able to talk with both potential Chinese distributor partners and retail buyers.

Ten brands turned out for the show, including AG Adriano Goldschmied, J Brand, Hudson Jeans, Paige Premium Denim, Nanette Lepore and Robert Rodriguez.

Jeff Rudes, CEO of California’s J Brand, reports the label underwent a “Lewis and Clark expedition” to check out the options to build their brand in Chinese markets. “We met with all different types of people: distributors, retailers, researchers, p.r. people,” he said to WWD.

With apparel sales to reach $200 billion by 2014, China takes the prize as the world’s second biggest apparel market, said a recent McKinsey & Co. report, called “From Mao to Wow: Winning in China’s Booming Apparel Market.” China is dramatically outpacing the United States in terms of market growth, with forecasts of 11 percent future growth for China versus only 2 percent for American markets.

Some categories of apparel are faring better than others.

“This reflects a shift toward occasion-based dressing — that is, wearing different outfits for work, social occasions and at home,” noted the McKinsey & Co. study. “Children’s apparel is another boom category, growing 15 percent annually; casual and sports footwear is growing almost as fast, and could reach annual revenues of $7 billion by 2013.”

During the recent ENKUSA show, many walked away happy with the results they achieved. Marco Lebel, vice president of sales at Robert Rodriguez, commented: “We went to China with ENKUSA to gauge the pulse and reaction to the Robert Rodriguez Collection and are pleased with the initial response.”

The show's organizers have big plans, anticipating to quadruple the number of American brands attending next year.

“Everyone is talking about China. But you have to go there to see it firsthand,” Elyse Kroll, chairwoman of ENK International, said to WWD. “Just talking about it without going is like telling somebody about last night’s Yankees game — you have to be there to truly experience it.”

Kroll believes the show helped dispel some common myths, namely that starting a business in China would take a great deal of time and effort and that a presence may prove too difficult to establish. ENK vendors walked away aware of the new opportunities in China, which are made trickier by the fact that, as the report claimed, there is “no dominant channel in China.”

And while Chinese shoppers may dig the different brands, according to the McKinsey & Co., they exhibit little faithfulness to a certain brand.

“About 70 percent of apparel sales in China are branded, a percentage that is growing. But the Chinese focus on value for money means that there is little loyalty to a specific brand; consumers are constantly looking for the best deal,” revealed McKinsey & Co.

Tagged in: china, chinese, markets, enk, enkusa, trade show, mckinsey & co. report,


Purple Neon/LadyLUX via WWD, ENK

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