Victoria’s Secret models are heading for Shanghai as brand opens first lingerie store in China

Summer Zhen
Interior view of the flagship store of lingerie brand Victoria's Secret at Huaihai Road on February 22, 2017 in Shanghai, China.
VCG | Getty Images

Victoria's Secret has opened its first lingerie store in Shanghai after years of selling branded accessories in China, as it picked the most cosmopolitan among major Chinese cities to be the test bed for its offerings of designer under garments.

Fronted by an iconic pink glass facade, the four-storey Victoria's Secret store occupying 2,500 square metres opened its doors on Thursday along Huaihai Road, a five-minute stroll from Shanghai's upscale Xintiandi shopping area. Prior to this, the US brand had only operated concept stores in China, selling branded accessories.

The opening of the flagship store will satisfy Chinese women's "desire to keep up with the pace at the forefront of international fashion," said Savills Shanghai Retail's senior associate director Joey Chio, who helped Victoria's Secret scout its Shanghai site.

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Almost two decades of break neck economic growth and increasing prosperity has gotten enough women accustomed to Western tastes and fashion sensibilities that they are dumping local brands.

Victoria's Secret, which first entered China in 2015, has unveiled an aggressive expansion plan in the fast-growing Chinese market. It'll bring its annual show of lingerie and underwear to Shanghai by the end of 2017, besides opening a second store in the Sichuan provincial capital of Chengdu to serve the southwestern Chinese market.

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At the Shanghai store, each piece of brassiere costs between 300 yuan and 600 yuan (US$87), at a premium to US prices.

"Chinese women are now ready for more sophisticated bras," said Pascal Martin, a partner with OC&C Strategy Consultants.

Luxury lingerie and high quality functional products are becoming increasingly popular among Chinese women, and a more frequent topic of discussion on social media.

China's market for women's underwear is expected to have a retail value of US$25 billion by 2017 - double that of the United States - and will grow to US$33 billion by 2020, according to Euromonitor.

Top Italian luxury lingerie maker La Perla, which has eight stores in China, said it planned additional outlets in Chengdu and Chongqing and aims to open a men's store in Beijing.

Canadian yoga brand Lululemon entered the Chinese market by opening its first shop in Shanghai last December.

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