Chinese luxury customers have scaled up sales of more restrained styles which has contributed to the popularity of Scottish wool through their purchase of top global luxury brands such as Chanel, which have been buying more Scottish tweed recently even if they are not buying directly from Scotland or Australia.
According to a report by Financial Times, a growing number of Chinese consumers are buying traditional Scottish clothing and using tweed for upholstery in their homes. One main draw of tweed among Chinese consumers is its British heritage, said industry professionals. Wool and cashmere clothing company Johnstons of Elgin has appointed special agents in Beijing in Shanghai, and told the Financial Times that Chinese customers love the brandâ€™s 215-year-old â€œhistory and heritage.â€ Meanwhile, the chairman of the tweed makers of the Isle of Harris said that â€œprovenance, British [identity], and qualityâ€ are the aspects that give tweed brands â€œa good chanceâ€ in China. Scotland is especially poised to benefit from this increased demand.
In the first nine months of 2013 Scottish tweed exports to China rose to a record high, reaching Â£9.7 million, more than all of 2012 exports combined. Meanwhile, Chinaâ€™s overall wool imports have increased by 6.5 percent to $2.5 billion in the first 11 months of 2013.
Chinese companies are also taking notice of a much nearer country known for its sheep resourcesâ€”Australia. A Chinese company called Zhejiang RIFA Holding Group has been making big buys of top pastoral properties there in hopes of building up a â€œwool empireâ€, reports The Australian.
The attraction of British heritage also makes tweed suits a major draw for Chinese tourists visiting London. It may also be boosting Burberry, which has seen sales growth thatâ€™s defied the luxury slowdown in recent months.
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