Beijing’s Luxury Retail Experience

As part of Experiential Learning – Asia Pacific Study (RMG 917), a group of 17 TRSM Retail Management students are visiting China for a two-week learning experience exploring the Chinese retail market. The group began their journey in Beijing on Saturday, May 7th.

Here, students Lauren Jaques, Cherice Wilson and Tamour Sheikh provide insights into Chinese luxury retail and the hectic pace of a Beijing electronics market.

Lauren Jaques:

Today we visited premium Chinese retailer Landi to learn about luxury retail in China. As we pulled up to the front door, we were greeted by gorgeous rose bushes, palm trees and a red carpet.

The company was founded in 1990 – something to brag about in the Chinese market, as retail moves and changes so quickly. All of the clothing is made in China with designs and patterns actually made in their Beijing head office and showroom. We had the pleasure of meeting the Chairman of Landi, who has been voted as one of the 10 most powerful people in Beijing. He was very courteous and casual, considering he is the “big boss” as his assistant told us. He was impressed by the questions we asked and said that he would be ecstatic if Chinese students were as inquisitive and outgoing as we were. After our meeting, we were able to tour the various studios and workrooms where we got to see seamstresses, visual merchandisers, buyers and analysts hard at work.

Landi clothing falls in the price range of 2,000 to 5,000 yuan, giving them premium retailer status. Landi has a VIP club for members to enjoy certain benefits and also provides customers with bespoke services for special needs. For example, many city officials’ wives shop and have their clothing made by Landi on a regular basis. Landi also leverages relationships with Chinese celebrities and people in the media by designing and producing bespoke pieces for them. The company is aiming to become the top premium domestic clothing brand in China in the future through creating connections and gaining continued recognition in the market among middle class Chinese consumers.

Cherice Wilson:

On Tuesday, May 10, we spent the afternoon at Landi Group headquarters. Operating out of what used to be The Golden Lily Hotel, the ornate headquarters fuses new international fashion trends with 26 years of brand history. The Landi Group specializes in fabric design, garment design, sales, production and retail.

Landi Fabric

We had the opportunity to sit down with the Chairman of Landi Group, Xiao Wenjiu, for a Q&A session on the premium brands experience in China. Chairman Xiao Wenjiu described the dynamic Chinese market and what it takes to expand within the Asian market.

Much like other domestic premium brands in Asia, The Landi Group has been faced with the same threats in the highly saturated market of fashion apparel. It was interesting to hear Wenjiu’s insight on how the established brand, with over 200 retail operations had poised itself for expansion in Asia’s fashion apparel market. It was clear after walking through the various workrooms and departments in the Landi Group Headquarters, that the key to the company’s longevity was their passion for creativity and value. The looming threats of fast fashion and Western luxury houses became a catalyst for innovation for the premium brands with no signs of slowing down national expansion.

Tamour Sheikh:

What happens when you take thousands of square feet of retail space and fuse that with Hello Kitty phone cases, cameras and phones? You get the Silicon Valley of Beijing! Today’s visit to the electronics market of Beijing put into perspective the sheer scale of the city.

Firstly, the traffic caused our two-way commute to be nearly three hours long. Once we arrived we were met by multiple buildings with multiple floors of vendors selling the exact same things. We had a lot of questions, such as:

How do these vendors make money?
How do people get to this part of town taking into with the traffic issue?
What is the carrying cost of all of this inventory?

These questions remain up in the air for debate.

The takeaway from this experience, however, is when you’re 1 of 20+ million people in a city, you do whatever it takes…even if that means catching a late afternoon nap in a busy marketplace.

Sleeping boy in market

Want to learn more about the innovative experiential learning opportunities offered by the Ted Rogers School of Retail Management? Visit the Retail Management website.