All paths to recovery for the reeling fashion industry lead through China, reports Axios' Felix Salmon.
Why it matters: China has become the most knowledgeable and sophisticated fashion market in the world — as well as the one with the greatest sheer number of consumers.
- It has a dizzying proliferation of style tribes and cultures, as well as a fast-growing set of domestic brands helmed by Chinese designers trained in London or New York or Antwerp.
- China isn't just about mass manufacturing anymore. It has become the place the fashion world goes to find the most subtle and exacting artisans, not just in clothes but also in adjacent areas like tattoos.
Louis Vuitton put on a blockbuster show in Shanghai in August, featuring designer Virgil Abloh's new menswear collection alongside older pieces that were already available in stores.
- By the numbers: The show attracted 84,000 viewers on Louis Vuitton's website — but that number was dwarfed by the number of people who watched it live in China. It received 68 million viewers on WeBo, 18 million on Douyin, 8 million on Tencent, and millions more on other platforms.
- Louis Vuitton shops in Shanghai, Taiwan, China and Korea all had their biggest sales weekend in history following the show, reports Fashion United's Kristopher Fraser.
The bottom line: Fashion industry association Altagamma now expects Chinese consumers to account for 50% of the global luxury market as soon as 2025. With international travel severely curtailed for the time being, they're going to have to do that shopping largely at home.