Today we have the pleasure of interviewing Olivier Pichon, a French entrepreneur in Shanghai. Founder of Imprivet, a firm which distributes lingerie Brands in China.
Hello, my name is Olivier PICHON. I’ve been living in China for more than 8 years (Shanghai, Beijing then back Shanghai). I have mainly worked in the retail industry and opened nearly 400 corner shops and stand alone stores over 5 years.
Since the end of 2013, I have started my own lingerie business.
INPRÎVET is a B2B Lingerie and Accessory showroom representing nearly 15 international brands (France, UK, US and Spain). Our 2 main activities are researching online and offline retailers and communication in fashion magazines. We are exploring all the possible ways to develop the brands that we represent.
Like many industries, the Chinese market can offer a real boost to sales and provides an alternative to current brands in China, thus there is room for expansion. Not so long time ago, lingerie wasn’t seen as being too dissimilar from the traditional undergarment.
Communication via social networks and the desire to discover more have allowed international lingerie brands to enter a new era, whereby wearing lingerie purports a certain lifestyle. The young generation is gradually becoming detached from the cliché of functional undergarments, seeing them more as a fashion element of their wardrobe.
When we talk about fashion, yes we can think that French brands are valued in the Chinese market. But it is also a rich history which makes French brands a benchmark in terms of their quality. However the market is also looking for fashion lingerie, which leads us through different countries to find the brands in line with the Chinese market potential. So, in addition to these French brands, we also decided to welcome brands from other countries in order to offer the biggest range, and assortment of quality, to Chinese consumers.
There isn’t really a leader in the market, but numerous local brands which are seeing little by little the arrival of these foreign brands (which will get more and more market share).
On-line communication has been the catalyst for the exposure of international lingerie brands and it will continue. You cannot avoid it and it’s necessary for a successful development in China.
As mentioned above, the young generation will enable brands to develop much faster than they have in recent years. The new development opportunities in lingerie stores, corner shops, multi-brand fashion concept stores and all online platforms will be able to help the growth of the brands.
Moreover, with the Chinese middle-class growing very quickly, the price will not be an issue. Consumers will also change, probably starting with more youthful styles, then fashionable brands and later mature clothing, without forgetting the erotic chic brands which are showing potential too.
8/ If you have to choose a Brand that you represent which one will you choose ?
This is a rather difficult question because many have potential. However, from what we have learned in recent months, it’s important to find a brand with a good compromise between style, price and image … So I would think of “Dita von Teese.” But there again, I would love to present you the godmother of the lingerie “Chantal Thomass” but also “Aubade” for the famous lessons and “Chantelle” for its history … the list is endless.
Like many entrepreneurs, I’ve made mistakes but it is necessary to grow up. If I have to mention one, it would not be necessarily linked to entrepreneurship. I think I made the mistake of not having studied Mandarin upon my arrival in China. This does not allow me to freely participate in all negotiations in China without a translator. Fortunately, I have a partner and a team that know fully how to convey this “fame” without being always there to support it.
After finding my wife in China and the birth of our daughter one year ago, I could say for convincing big brands to follow us and knowing that they haven’t regretted it.
Thank you Olivier for this feed back. If you have more question please do not hesitate to comment and ask questions.
Inprivet Website http://www.inprivet.com/