The New Cachet of 'Made In China'
Just across the street from its store on Rue de Sèvres in Paris, Hermès is gutting a second space, to open in September. That new store will be filled with finely wrought homewares and elegant clothes, including sculptural dresses made from hand-felted cashmere in a centuries-old process typical of the French house's attention to detail. There is one major difference: Nearly all the stock will be produced in China. This isn't another branch of Hermès: It's the first international site for the luxury company's subsidiary Shang Xia.
在爱马仕(Hermes)位于巴黎Rue de Sevres大街的门店对面，该品牌的另一个店面正在筹备，它将于今年9月开张。新店将摆满精致的家居用品和优雅的服装，包括用手工毛线制作的极具雕塑感的礼服，这种制作工艺已有几百年的历史，从中可以尽显这个法国时尚品牌对细节的关注。这家门店与爱马仕传统门店的一个主要区别是：几乎所有的货品都将在中国生产。该门店不是爱马仕品牌的一家新店，而是这家奢侈品公司旗下子品牌“上下”的首个国际门店。
For a long time, Chinese production has been synonymous with corner-cutting and cheap goods. Few Western luxury brands were willing to admit how much of their stock was manufactured there. However, that perception is slowly changing as many homegrown brands—high-end women's label Uma Wang, Mary Ching shoes and Septwolves menswear, to name a few—focus on quality craftsmanship, often with a traditional bent and sophisticated designs.
长期以来，中国制造一直是偷工减料和廉价商品的同义词。过去，几乎没有哪个西方奢侈品品牌愿意承认自己有多少货品是在中国生产的。不过，随着很多中国本土品牌专注于高质量的做工，常常集传统元素与精致的设计于一体，人们的这一观念正在慢慢改变。高端女装品牌王汁(Uma Wang)、女鞋品牌贞(Mary Ching)和男装品牌七匹狼(Septwolves)等就属于这类中国品牌。
These brands are starting to make inroads with the most fashion-forward of the country's sizable luxury-hungry population. "Younger Chinese women are very discerning and want things that others don't have, " said Lionel Derimais, photographer and blogger who has charted the rise of such brands on his three-year-old site Nicely Made in China. "Everybody's got a Louis Vuitton bag or a Gucci. These girls want something different, and very often it's a Chinese brand."
这些品牌逐渐开始吸引中国庞大的奢侈品消费群体中那些最前卫的时尚人士。摄影师、博主德里迈(Lionel Derimais)说，年轻的中国女性非常有眼光，她们想要与众不同的东西。德里迈在其开设了三年的网站Nicely Made in China上记述了这类中国本土高端品牌的崛起。德里迈说，每个人都已有一个路易威登(Louis Vuitton)或古驰(Gucci)的包包，这些女孩想要与众不同的东西，常常是中国品牌。
This movement has coincided with the country's luxury boom. The Middle Kingdom now has some of the deepest pockets in the world. Consulting firm McKinsey &Co. reported last December that China had overtaken Japan as the largest consumer of luxury goods. There's even a slangy nickname for the nation's free-spending nouveaux riches: bao fa hu, which translates roughly as "explosively rich."
"In the first 30 years of economic development, we didn't have the opportunity to pursue this desire. It was basic needs—no more hunger and cold, " explained Shang Xia artistic director Jiang Qiong Er. "We've started to go back to our cultural roots. In the last five years, people have realized the importance of creativity and quality in China."
Ms. Jiang, who was trained in design at the école des Beaux-Arts in Paris and formerly worked as a window dresser for Hermès, oversees Shiang Xia's collections. All of the goods reflect the understated luxury of the parent company. But her mission is also to make every piece emphatically Chinese—without lapsing into stereotypical chinoiserie. More than 80% of the line's stock is manufactured on the mainland. Ms. Jiang seeks out craftsmen in different regions who specialize in traditional skills.
蒋琼耳在巴黎美术学院(Ecole des Beaux-Arts)接受过设计训练，曾在爱马仕做橱窗装饰师，她目前负责“上下”的服装系列。所有的服饰都必须反映出“上下”的母公司爱马仕的低调奢侈风格。但她的任务不止于此，她还要使每件服装都具有鲜明的中国特色，但又不会坠入老套的中国风。该系列有80%以上的产品是在中国内地生产的。蒋琼耳在中国各地挖掘身怀传统技艺的匠人。
Driven by many of the same instincts as Ms. Jiang, Alison Yeung founded her luxury shoe line, Mary Ching, in Shanghai four years ago. The globe-trotting daughter of a former Cantonese diplomat is feisty and impassioned, like a stiletto-shod mashup of vintage Spice Girl and Manolo Blahnik. "My mission is to change the perceptions associated with 'made in China, ' "she explained. "We source local materials, like water snake. My concept is 100% made in China." She added, "It's the same as with Japan 50 years ago. Things made there were considered cheap and bad quality. Now they produce the best in the world."
受到与蒋琼耳类似的一些本能的驱使，杨贞(Alison Yeung)四年前在上海建立了自己的奢侈鞋类品牌“贞”(Mary Ching)。这个周游世界的前广东外交官的女儿精力充沛、充满激情，总是穿着细高跟鞋，结合了古典辣妹(Spice Girl)和莫罗•伯拉尼克(Manolo Blahnik)的风格。她解释说，我的使命是改变人们对“中国制造”的印象，我们使用本土的材料，比如水蛇皮；我的理念是，100%的中国制造。她补充说，就像是50年前的日本一样，当时日本生产的产品被认为价格便宜、质量低下，而现在日本却在生产世界最好的产品。
Priced around $500 per pair, Ms. Yeung's shoes have a glamorous, vampy look akin to that of Jimmy Choo. Ms. Yeung has already made her mark on the West: Her spiky heels are in the permanent costume collection of London's Victoria and Albert Museum as representations of contemporary Chinese design.
杨贞的品牌鞋子每双大约500美元，拥有与Jimmy Choo品牌类似的绚丽、光亮的外观。杨贞已经在西方留下了自己的印记：作为当代中国设计的代表，她的又细又长的高跟鞋已经被伦敦维多利亚和阿尔伯特博物馆(Victoria and Albert Museum)永久收藏。
This nascent made-in-China pride reflects the cultural revolution currently under way in the world's most populous nation. A great many of its white-collar workers under 35 are only children—the result of the country's strict one-child policy enacted in 1979—with their disposable income boosted by gifts from doting families. "They've never known hardship, they're fiercely nationalistic and very proud of the modern, emerging China taking its place on the global stage, " noted Nick Debnam, Asia Pacific chairman of financial advisory firm KPMG China, who has studied this phenomenon. "They now have money to spend, and they would like to associate with brands like Shang Xia."
这种新出现的对“中国制造”的骄傲感反映出了这个世界人口最多的国家正在发生的文化革命。中国35岁以下的职场白领很多都是独生子──这是中国1979年开始严格实施一胎政策的结果，他们的可支配收入还因为溺爱他们的家人的馈赠而得到提振。金融咨询公司毕马威中国(KPMG China)亚太地区董事长戴力行(Nick Debnam)研究过这一现象，他说，他们从来没吃过苦，他们非常民族主义，对于在全球舞台赢得一席之地的现代的、兴起的中国感到非常骄傲；他们现在有钱花，他们想要与上下这样的品牌产生关联。
China's stylish new first lady, Peng Liyuan, wears mostly domestic labels, and has boosted their profile and profits much as first lady Michelle Obama's cheerleading did for J.Crew and Jason Wu. One of Ms. Peng's favorites is Exception de Mixmind, whose designer, Ma Ke, was invited in 2008 to present a collection at the haute couture shows in Paris. The brand now has 50 stores in China. Ms. Ma's work is reminiscent of fashion-forward Western designers like Rick Owens and Dries Van Noten, but she uses traditional Chinese dyeing and weaving techniques.
中国时尚的新第一夫人彭丽媛主要穿着国产品牌，这极大地提振了国产品牌的影响力和利润，就像美国第一夫人米歇尔•奥巴马(Michelle Obama)为J.Crew和吴季刚(Jason Wu)带来的宣传效应一样。彭丽媛最锺爱的品牌是例外(Exception de Mixmind)，这一品牌的设计师马可2008年曾被邀请在巴黎的高级时装秀上展示一个产品系列。例外在中国有50家专卖店。马可的作品让人联想起前卫的西方设计师，比如欧文斯(Rick Owens)和范诺顿(Dries Van Noten)，不过她使用的是中国的染色和纺织技术。
The natural next step for these brands is to export their bao fa hu-powered Chinese aesthetic overseas. Many have already begun to do so. Shang Xia's Paris flagship is scheduled to open this year. Uma Wang's drapey knits are easily accessible in the U.S. online and she has a solid reach in Europe, particularly in Italy. Mary Ching's network of niche boutiques reaches from Moscow to London to Palm Beach and Boston.
It's an easier prospect for labels that have a Western partner, like Shang Xia or the jewelry brand Qeelin, which was acquired late last year by Kering (formerly PPR). Similarly, '20s-era Chinese sneaker brand Feiyue was relaunched by a Frenchman and is now widely available outside of China.
The multimillion-dollar question, of course, is how to make product that appeals to both domestic and international sensibilities. Ms. Yeung, who was educated at English schools and attended London's prestigious design school Central Saint Martins, makes it a point to emphasize the cross-cultural appeal of her designs. She said her shoes fuse "Chinese opulence with British eccentricity." She devotes 10% of each collection to styles for Asian consumers. The rest of her wares are available world-wide.
当然，一个价值数百万美元的问题是：如何设计出能够同时吸引中国和国外顾客的产品。杨贞认为强调设计中的跨文化吸引力非常重要。杨贞在英国接受教育，曾就读于伦敦久负盛名的设计学校中央圣马丁艺术与设计学院(Central Saint Martins)。她说她的鞋子将中国式的奢华和英国式的古怪融合在了一起。在每个系列的鞋子中，杨贞会专门拿出10%按照亚洲消费者喜欢的样式进行设计，剩下的样式走得都是国际路线。
Thirty-eight-year-old menswear brand Bosideng, which has more than 11, 000 Chinese stores, is also making a big play for Western customers. The company recently opened a flagship, at a cost of over $50 million, on London's South Molton Street. However, the product inside the London store is different from the label's domestic range, and the logo is changed. That clothing, manufactured largely in Europe, is a pricier riff on Bosideng's classic aesthetic, combining British tailoring with a few Chinese touches.
已有38年历史的男装品牌波司登也开始迎合西方顾客。该品牌在中国有超过11,000家门店。波司登最近在伦敦南莫尔顿街(South Molton Street)斥资5,000万美元开设了一家旗舰店。然而，伦敦门店内销售的商品和该品牌在国内销售的不同，品牌标识也发生了变化。伦敦门店内销售的服饰大都在欧洲制造，比波司登的经典款式稍贵，将英式剪裁和中国风格融为一体。
Soon, though, loyalists in China won't need to book a ticket to Europe to browse the London store's collection. Within two seasons, Bosideng will make the European designs available on its home shores—a unique instance of East-meets-West-meets-East-again.