SHENZHEN, China — Shenzhen Ellassay Fashion continues to expand into the high-end women’s market. On Tuesday, the Chinese fashion and apparel company announced that it has acquired a majority stake in New York-based Chinese-American designer Vivienne Tam’s brand rights in China for 37 million CNY (about $5.5 million).
Shenzhen Ellassay Fashion most recently acquired French advanced contemporary brand Iro’s entire operations in March for 790 million CNY ($118 million) via a subsidiary. It also owns the Chinese mid-market brand Ellassay as well as the brand rights to German womenswear brand Laurèl in China and the brand rights to American apparel brand Ed Hardy in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau. In fiscal 2016, revenue for the group grew 36 percent to 1.13 billion CNY ($169 million) while net income grew 24 percent to 197.95 million CNY ($29.5 million). The company went public in 2015.
“Our goal is to eventually become a high-end fashion group,” chairman Xia Guoxin told BoF. “Vivienne Tam, the brand, has a distinctive personality and complements our current brand portfolio, in line with the company strategy. I have known Vivienne for many years; we trust each other a lot.”
Acquisitions of international companies have surged in China in recent years, as the country transforms itself from an export-dependent economy to a consumption-driven one. In 2016, textile producer Shandong Ruyi bought a majority stake in SMCP, the French group that owns affordable luxury brands Sandro, Maje and Claudie Pierlot. Since the acquisition, increased demand from China's growing middle class has fuelled sales. It follows the acquisition of British trench coat maker Aquascutum by the same group, as well as a minority stake in St. John by Fosun.
Vivienne Tam will run independently in China, but the designer told BoF that she will work closely with the design team at Shenzhen Ellassay Fashion. “[She will] assemble a design team with international backgrounds to develop products that resonate with the younger generation in China,” said Xia. The company plans to open the first Vivienne Tam store in mainland China later this year, with more to come in 2018.
Vivienne Tam was born in Guangzhou and grew up in Hong Kong before launching her namesake label in New York in 1994. She soon became one of the most prominent Chinese-American names in fashion, known for combining Eastern and Western cultural influences in her work. In 2005 she published a book entitled "China Chic." She recently closed her US boutique in New York City but retains an e-commerce operation and a presence each season at New York Fashion Week. Her sales are currently concentrated in Japan, where she has over 14 shops, and Hong Kong, as well as the Phillippines, Thailand and Singapore. She retains sole ownership of her company outside of China.
“It’s a dream come true for me to have a partner in China,” said Tam, adding that she had tried to open her own stores in the country many years ago. With Shenzhen Ellassay Fashion’s infrastructure and resources, she expects China will become her largest market in the next three to five years.