World famous French fashion house Saint Laurent has launched an online store in China, according to media reports.
This is a major step for Saint Laurent to expand its Chinese market under current China's luxury market, which is up to the world's biggest contributor to the luxury market.
The brand is teaming up with online fashion retailer Farfetch to sell high-end goods via the Internet in China, Saint Laurent Chief Executive Francesca Bellettini said.
The brand will sell merchandise on a new online platform recently announced by Farfetch in a joint venture with JD.com, China's second-biggest e-commerce company. Farfetch's partnership with JD.com helped ease concerns about knockoffs, Saint Laurent said.
The announcement marks a cautious foray into China's freewheeling Internet market by one of the most elite brands in fashion.
"Protecting the brand from counterfeiting is fundamental for Saint Laurent," Bellettini said, adding that the agreement with Farfetch would "guarantee to our clients secured purchases in addition to a very efficient service."
According to a current report, Chinese consumers account for 30% of global luxury spending, and most of them prefer shopping at home due to China tax requirement. That means selling to the Chinese consumer in China has become key to the luxury industry's growth.
She believes Saint Laurent's sales to Chinese consumers has surged in recent years despite a slowdown in the global luxury market. Kering Co. owns Saint Laurent, Gucci and other brands. Kering last week reported that sales rose "sharply" across Asia, "particularly in mainland China."
"There is this population of millennial Chinese, very well educated, in particular Chinese university students, that are incredibly literate with the brand," she said.
Saint Laurent is pledging same-day delivery in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Starting in October, the brand aims to offer delivery within 90 minutes in these cities.
Luxury firms have had a tumultuous relationship with Chinese e-commerce companies, particularly Alibaba. Kering sued Alibaba in 2015 in federal court in New York, claiming the firm was conspiring with Chinese manufacturers to produce and sell counterfeit versions of Kering brands.