GENEVA, Switzerland — Richemont has sold Shanghai Tang, a Hong Kong-based fashion maker that was one of the first Chinese luxury labels to seek a global presence, to Italian entrepreneur Alessandro Bastagli.
The Swiss company is ending 19 years’ ownership of Shanghai Tang, which makes men’s and women’s clothing combining western and Chinese design influences. It is Richemont’s first sale of a luxury brand since it disposed of Italian penmaker Montegrappa in 2007.
“The disposal of Shanghai Tang is a logical step,” Rene Weber, an analyst at Vontobel, said in a note. “The brand was neither material in terms of sales nor of profit.”
Shanghai Tang, known for form-fitting qipao dresses worn in Wong Kar-Wai’s 2000 film “In the Mood for Love,” was begun by Sir David Tang as a bespoke tailor shop in 1994, and now has about 48 stores. While the brand benefited from turn-of-the-millennium buzz about China expanding its global cultural influence to match its prowess in manufacturing, it never caught on in a big way in Europe or the US and consumers in the faster-growing Chinese market have preferred western luxury brands.
Richemont acquired a controlling stake in the brand in 1998, a year after sovereignty over Hong Kong was transferred from the UK to China, and bought the rest in 2008. The Geneva-based luxury company is revamping its portfolio, having merged its Net-a-Porter online unit with Yoox SpA in 2015. It now owns 18 brands, including Cartier, Montblanc and IWC. The company announced the sale in a statement Monday, in which it did not disclose a price.
Some of Shanghai Tang’s print dresses sell for more than $2,000, and the brand also offers jewellery and home furnishings. Bastagli runs Lineapiu, a maker of high-end knitwear for the fashion industry.
By Thomas Mulier; editors: Eric Pfanner, Paul Jarvis.