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Nanushka, one of fashion’s fastest-growing brands, is out to make a big splash in China, targeting nine stores across the world’s second-largest economy by 2026.
The Budapest-based fashion house also launched on Alibaba Group’s business-to-consumer marketplace Tmall and opened a store in Shanghai in October.
In this episode of Alicast, we’re joined by Péter Baldaszti, the co-founder and CEO of Nanushka and fashion investment platform Vanguards Group to talk about his China vision.
“Any brand who has goals to grow the business will need to go to China and meet the brand’s Chinese community and customers in the domestic Chinese market,” said Baldaszti.
China is on track to become the world’s largest luxury market by 2025 and global brands, such as Bulgari, Moncler and Brunello Cucinelli have all launched this year on Alibaba’s digital marketplaces serving over a billion Chinese consumers.
“We have a very ambitious expansion strategy in China for China,” said Baldaszti.
In September, Nanushka opened a Shanghai store in the upscale IAMP shopping mall, also home to Gucci, Prada and Balmain boutiques. Nanushka is engaging and collaborating with locally based creatives to build a community around the Shanghai store.
Next up, Nanushka plans to open a store in the center of Chengdu, the capital of China’s southwestern Sichuan province, and next year in Beijing. The brand aims to have nine stores in Chinese Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities by 2026, at which point nearly half of its stores globally will be in the Middle Kingdom.
The brand worn by Michelle Obama, Yang Mi and Billie Eilish, hasn’t paid celebrities to wear its clothes.
Baldaszti and his wife, Sandra Sándor, co-founded Nanushka in 2005, and the brand has since received global recognition for its focus on craftsmanship and sustainability with a modern minimalist aesthetic. It’s widely seen as one of the vanguard of independent luxury fashion houses today.
Nanushka’s global rollout push comes as the climate crisis weighs on purchasing decisions worldwide. A recent survey found that 90% of Chinese consumers already know the importance of sustainable shopping.
The brand’s show at Paris Fashion Week referenced industrial bohemian chic and included coats made out of vegan leather.
“We are shocked by how educated Chinese customers are on the topic of sustainability…more educated than other markets…that was a big revelation for us,” Baldaszti said.
Given Chinese consumers’ interest and relatively high knowledge base, Baldaszti sees an opportunity for the brand to keep the conversation going with customers about sustainability. He believes it is key to be very transparent about where the brand is sustainable and where it is not to build trust, given the degree of greenwashing going on in the industry.
Nanushka publishes sustainability reports and is a Signatory of the UN Fashion Charter.
We are shocked by how educated Chinese customers are on the topic of sustainability
Its clear ownership by Vanguards has supercharged Nanushka’s development. When the private equity business bought Nanushka, it was a €1 million business, and this year it will generate between €45 million and €50 million of revenues.
Next year the brand will reap the benefits of its heavy investments, from store openings, launching on Tmall and expanding into new categories such as bags.
Vanguards targets fashion and lifestyle brands in the untapped €1 to €20 million annual revenue space, and scale them to a €50 million plus range. It operates in the sweet spot where brands are considered too big for smaller investors, and too small for big funds.
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“Alicast” is a production of Alizila, the corporate newsroom of Alibaba. It’s produced by Yashan Zhao and hosted by Alison Tudor-Ackroyd. If you’re in a podcast app already, please follow “Alicast”. If you’re listening on Alizila’s website and want each new episode of “Alicast” delivered to you as they’re published, download any podcast app, then search for “Alicast” to follow the show. Thank you for listening.