Sept. 16 - London Fashion Week is in full swing and the Chinese have come to town. But as Ivor Bennett reports with European interest in all things Asian growing the Chinese are selling as well as buying.
Hong Kong fashion giant I.T.'s teamed up with London department store Selfridges. It's the first time the company's sold in the UK - with 7 of its top brands on sale for the next 7 weeks. SOUNDBITE (English) REUTERS REPORTER IVOR BENNETT, SAYING: "Labels like Fingercroxx and Minicream won't mean much to British consumers yet, But in Asia it doesn't get much bigger. And it's this kind of thing that's really popular - bright colours and funky textures." A mix of street wear labels - the collection's mostly aimed at teenage consumers. Cartoon prints are another key feature. I.T. Vice President Deborah Cheng is confident the clothes will stand out. SOUNDBITE (English) I.T. MARKETING VICE PRESIDENT DEBORAH CHENG, SAYING "We have the colours, we have the special prints, we have a sense of humour, like an Asian touch of the sense of humour, and also the styling and the silhouette would be different from what you can right now on the high street in London." But the UK's by no means an easy market to crack. High-end label Bosideng is so far the only Chinese retailer with a high-street presence in London, opening a store last year. Retail analyst Isabel Cavill says building brand awareness can be tough. SOUNDBITE (English) PLANET RETAIL SENIOR ANALYST, ISABEL CAVILL, SAYING: "They don't have the same history that say an Italian brand like Prada has. but at the same time they do have to start somewhere. They're probably appealing to Chinese shoppers shopping in the UK, as well as UK or European consumers looking out for something new or something different." The clothes here don't come cheap. This jacket costs 100 pounds. But many of Selfridges customers are in fact Chinese, and the collection so far's been a hit. After just 4 days, the IT brands are in the store's top 3 sellers. At the moment the company doesn't have any shops in Europe. Depending on how this goes, that could soon change.