LONDON — Roger Vivier, the French luxury footwear and accessory brand owned by Tod’s, has been making a big push in China to entice the nation’s super-rich amid a global luxury slowdown.
Earlier this month, the brand put out an exhibition of its spring 2024 collection and hosted a lavish dinner in Shanghai. Both events yielded considerable buzz on social media thanks to a star-studded guest list, which included local celebrities like Laurinda Ho, Gina Alice, Ayla Sham, Zhang Linghe and brand ambassador Allen Ren.
The exhibition comprised four rooms showcasing different aspects of Roger Vivier’s offering envisioned by creative director Gherardo Felloni: a nature-inspired world that spotlighted the craft of color, a pink and red-themed space that celebrated the heart of passion, an airy chamber that paid tribute to the shape of lightness, and one that incited an air of preciousness with a chandelier lying smashed on the ballroom floor.
Additionally, there was a dedicated area that highlighted the brand’s new Viv’ Choc Piece Unique collection with artisans showcasing the process of making heavily embroidered clutches. First revealed during Paris couture week last summer, the collection comes with 15 one-of-a-kind designs with prices going up to 50,000 euros.
Catherine Sardin, general manager at Roger Vivier since May 2022, said the brand chose to touch down in Shanghai because the city embraces the same “creativity, dynamism and audacity” as the brand.
Calling Shanghai “China’s fashion capital as well as a hub for sophisticated consumers,” Sardin believes the exhibition and the dinner presented an opportunity to showcase “the maison’s legendary values, Felloni’s visionary world, as well as the spring 2024 collection and savoir-faire to the local press, VICs and Shanghai’s creative community who are pivotal for Chinese culture.”
The brand has been able to maintain a healthy level of growth in the first nine months of 2023, with sales climbing 19.1 percent year-over-year.
“Hong Kong as well as Macao have remained very strong and Japan also continued to perform well, partly thanks to Chinese purchases. Roger Vivier has a high exposure in China and reflects the country’s industrial performance. The group is following a retail strategy, which involves a selection of openings, that is consistent with the brand’s exclusivity,” Sardin said.
A landmark like this is what the brand needed to offset the negative impact of a slowdown in overall luxury consumption that began at the start of the third quarter in China.
“Chinese consumers love Roger Vivier because the maison’s approach is not based on following trends but rather on pursuing true beauty through new shapes, colors, and its characteristic joie de vivre. The savoir-faire and artisanal uniqueness, which make many of the brand’s products extremely rare, is highly appreciated by the Chinese customer who values the preciousness of couture,” Sardin said.
“The patiently handcrafted shoes, bags, jewels and accessories naturally become successful because of Felloni’s ability to audaciously reinterpret and modernize Roger Vivier’s cultural heritage while continuing to create timeless and iconic pieces,” she added.
Sardin said the Belle Vivier pump with its signature metal buckle, which was worn by Catherine Deneuve in the film “Belle de Jour,” remains the most popular style among Chinese shoppers. Other trending styles include the Viv’Run/Skate sneaker, jewelry sets and couture collections like the Viv’ Choc Piece Unique.
As of 2023, the brand operates 75 boutiques across Asia, with 28 of them being in mainland China, six in Hong Kong, four in Macao and four in Taiwan.
Sardin said the brand’s current focus is on consolidating and conservatively expanding its retail network in the region.
“There is a constant awareness toward new and potentially key opportunities that would allow the maison to further reach customers. One such opportunity certainly lies in the constant development and growth of the handbags and accessories categories which are now at the very core of Roger Vivier’s identity,” she said.