The sometimes imposing, always bejewelled Balbina Wong is an old hand when it comes to luxury brand experience in China and Hong Kong. Born in Singapore, Ms Wong founded ImagineX in 1992 and was the first to introduce luxury brands such as Gucci, Prada, Cartier, and Hugo Boss to China.
In 1994, Ms Wong brought the Salvatore Ferragamo brand to Shanghai with the opening of a landmark boutique. Wong became sole distributor for Salvatore Ferragamo in Greater China, engineering the brand’s early and highly successful entry into the market.
Today, Wong is the deputy chairman and CEO of luxury management and distribution group ImagineX — which now represents 18 international brands, including Marc Jacobs and Donna Karan, with 450 points of sales across Asia — as well as retail management sister company, the Walton Brown Group, both part of the Lane Crawford Joyce Group.
Wong’s combination of vision, business acumen and talent for quanxi have paid off handsomely for the brands she has brought to China. Always the pioneer, Wong was the force behind a luxury retail development at one of fashion’s newest frontiers, Urumqi, an oil-rich desert town near the Kazakhstan border.
Ms Wong began her career in the 1960s in the cosmetics field with Elizabeth Arden and joined Estee Lauder as the South East Asia Sales & Marketing Director in the early 1970s.