The rolling grasslands of Inner Mongolia. And a true luxury brand with international aspirations. Before you cast this off as a wild-goose chase for that urban shoe myth – Carrie and the Adventures of Manolo’s Mary Janes — just remember: Gengis Khan did a pretty good job at the whole conquering game.
We have been waiting for a true luxury brand to come out of China for a few years now, yet were keeping the monocle focused on Beijing and Shanghai. Way up north, we see goats… herds and herds of goats. Which are key to the luxury in question: Cashmere.
As far as pulling a fashionable Gengis Khan and heading into the outback West goes, Erdos most certainly possesses the tools, i.e. the finances.
The city of Erdos (鄂尔多斯市) translates as “Palace of Tents” and is the most populated and urbanized town in the area. Wikipedia tells us that “Erdos is known for its lavish government projects, including the new Erdos City, a large city with abundant infrastructure, seldom used by residents and frequently described as a “ghost city”. It hosted the 2012 Miss World Final”. Lovely. More importantly, Erdos is a company town.
That company, founded 35 years ago, is also called Erdos and can lay claim to roughly one-third of the global cashmere production. Erdos used to lend its cashmere-supply services to the eminent likes of Hermès, Burberry and high-end Italian clothing company Loro Piana. Today, it can no longer make do since supply demands for the brand’s 3,000-plus eponymous stores located across China are awesome.
As far as pulling a fashionable Gengis Khan and heading into the outback West goes, Erdos most certainly possesses the tools, i.e. the finances. The Erdos Group, including energy and metallurgy (Google is your friend), is valued around 60.8 billion RMB (9.5 billion USD).
Graeme Black’s design expertise is key to doubling the brand’s China locations and setting up shop in the European prêt-à-porter landscape.
In terms of fashion, then… The brand has come a long way over the past two years. From a frumpy, conservative label for the “serious” woman, Erdos has changed tactics and opted for an entire makeover. In 2007, “Erdos 1436” saw the light and immediately tackled that dowdy tag. Graeme Black, formerly a designer for Armani, Hugo Boss and Ferragamo, has been working with Erdos 1436 since 2012, acting as the brand’s creative director. According to Jane Wang, general manager of Erdos 1436, Black’s design expertise is key to growing the brand’s China locations and setting up shop in the European prêt-à-porter landscape.
As competition grows among Western luxury brands that have since a decade or so invaded China’s shopping malls, building a name for domestic brands is a difficult task within China.
Prominent domestic Chinese brands, even anno 2016, have yet to prevail. Not including those Chinese brands financed by premium international partners such as Hermès-backed Shang Xia, Richemont-backed Shanghai Tang and French-Chinese jewelry house Qeelin, very few have emerged as forefront runners in the quest to become China’s very first globally renowned posh plush. As competition grows stiffer among Western luxury brands that have since a decade or so invaded China’s shopping malls, building a name for domestic brands is a difficult task within China, let alone in the international realm.
Bearing in mind the 2010 words of wisdom uttered by Christian Blanckaert, former executive vice-president of Hermès International, “a luxury brand must first be recognized in its own country before hitting the world stage”. Erdos 1436 has thus far already succeeded in sourcing quite the respectable clientele among some of China’s most powerful women… The brand may just be ready to embrace that inner Gengis Khan and unleash its cashmere onto the world stage.
Check out this Vimeo shoot and see what Erdos 1436 has in store for S/S 16. Lightness, airiness and transparency inspired by glass.
Photos: Erdos 1436