Guo Pei is a Chinese fashion designer most recently known for the custom-made dress that artist Rihanna wore on the red carpet during the MET Gala in 2015. Aside from being a fashion designer, Pei is the president of the Rose Studio Fashion Co. Ltd. Pei is also the Chief Designer in the company and one of the distinguished members of China’s association for fashion designers (Designers & Books, 2015). Pei’s Rose Studio, which was established in 1997, is one of the most inspiring brands when it comes to haute couture designs. Pei also won several awards over the years for her excellence in fashion design (Designers & Books).
As formerly noted, Pei is one of China’s most talented fashion designers. Nonetheless, Pei gained global attention due to the designer’s work on Rihanna’s Met Gala dress (Thomas, 2015). As noted by fashion critics, Rihanna’s dress thrust Pei into the fashion spotlight. “Social media lit up with chat about the dress, and the fashion magazine Vogue promptly put it on the front cover of its Met Gala Special Edition, catapulting its Chinese creator Guo Pei into the international spotlight” (Thomas, 2015). The growing interest in Pei’s work raises the potential for the fashion designer’s expansion of her label.
Another possibility is for Pei to export her designs by bringing her work from China to New York. Exporting would be beneficial to Pei’s brand because it would make her work more accessible to various clients not only because New York is one of the fashion capitals where designers converge but also because many of Pei’s potential clients are in the United States and the West. The succeeding report details Pei’s SAS’s export plan, specifically her brand’s logistics and distribution plan.
Guo Pei’s Main Products
Pei’s main offering is haute couture as reflected by Rihanna’s Met Gala dress. Pei created an empress-style gown for her client, a project that took two years for the designer to conceptualize, design, and bring to life. The empress-style gown is canary yellow with fur trimmings made of egg yolk hues, and embellished with flowers. It weighed 25 kilograms (Sudworth, 2015). Pei used to be a brand designer but chose to delve into haute couture (Designers & Books, 2015). According to Pei, she is more interested in designing haute couture because unlike ready to wear (RTW) pieces that easily becomes trendy but also quickly forgotten, haute couture pieces are memorable and timeless. In fact, Pei is known for being one of the few designers that endorsed haute couture in China (Designers & Books, 2015). Pei also worked on RTW designs prior to focusing on haute couture. For this reason, Pei could incorporate RTW as part of the brand’s new products to match the demand for fashion in New York.
Pei is already involved in outsourcing her works. To create Rihanna’s Met Gala gown, the designer had the material woven in Italy (Thomas, 2015). The process took almost six months to make. Hence, this process proves that Pei is no stranger to exporting her works. For this reason, it would be easier for the designer to export her works from China to New York, which would expectedly expand Pei’s clientele.
Guo Pei’s Brand Assets
Pei’s brand asset is her designs’ uniqueness. Pei has been compared to other designers with unique designs such as Alexander McQueen. For this reason, Pei is gaining buzz in the fashion industry and many individuals, aside from Rihanna, have expressed their desire to work with Pei. Pei’s designs also illustrate Chinese culture and since Chinese culture is rich, it provides extensive inspiration for the designer to create unique designs. Uniqueness breeds exclusivity, and customer behavior proves that exclusivity increases client interest, thereby, making products in demand (Kimmel, 2015). Pei’s works are therefore in demand because they are exclusive.
Pei’s existing craftsmen that work hard to put together custom pieces are also her brand assets. This is because Pei trained all of her craftsmen herself (Fide, 2015), which means that their work truly reflects Pei’s vision and design. Pei’s craftsmen are her assets because they help the designer realize her vision, and they are trained by Pei herself, which makes their work of high quality. Pei can leverage her manpower to expand her business by creating fabrics herself so as to limit access to her designs and make them more unique, and therefore, more in demand among her clients.
US Government Laws on Marketing
Considering the US government’s laws on export and marketing, Pei’s major concern involves truthful advertising, consumer protection, and pricing (Lister, 2014). In the US, existing laws on marketing encourage brands to be truthful in advertising. Marketing and promotions must not be misleading. Pei should abide by this law particularly because prior to having Rihanna wear her design, the designer chose not to reveal the weight of the dress to the artist. Hence, Rihanna did not know that the dress she should be wearing would be 25 kg. Pei should make sure that she remains truthful in communicating with her clients. Furthermore, brands must protect the rights of consumers and implement fair pricing strategies. Pei must review the rights of consumers based on US laws to make sure that she would abide by such laws, and to remain fair when it comes to pricing her works, particularly made to order or custom made products.
The strengths of Pei’s brand is its uniqueness from other brands. As formerly noted, Pei’s designs are unique and comparable to designers’ works that are known for their individuality. This is the unique value proposition or selling point of Pei’s brand.
The weaknesses of Pei’s brand is its lack of advertising and marketing. Although Pei has been in the business for more than a decade, the designer’s brand equity is relatively weak compared to that of other brands. Furthermore, Pei’s limited manpower is one of the brand’s weaknesses. It takes months and years to finish Pei’s designs. This would be problematic in attracting a consumer base, particularly due to the expected increase in demand.
Opportunities for expansion, however, include the wider consumer base in New York. Pei would be more accessible to clients, which would then increase projects for the designer. Other opportunities for expansion include Pei’s foray into retail RTW aside from designing wedding gowns. Marketing opportunities also include collaboration with brands and influential people to increase coverage and buzz surrounding Pei’s work.
Threats include the competition. Other established brands are more popular than Pei’s brand. Other threats include economic recession, which limits consumer spending.
Overall, the market situation in New York is viable for Pei’s expansion plan particularly because of its strength – brand uniqueness – which is valued in the fashion industry and by fashion enthusiasts and consumers, and existing opportunities for expansion of product lines, widening of market reach, and marketing. Pei’s brand would surely gain ground in New York.
The business model is one of the foundations of distribution in business and marketing. For Pei’s export plan, the business model is similar to the designer’s current business model. Pei’s business model is the designer’s transaction with key personalities or for specific events. Rihanna, for instance, collaborated with Pei for the designer to create a custom made dress. Pei has been doing this arrangement for years by working with actors, artists, celebrities, politicians, and other influential people, as well as for various events such as the Beijing Olympics (Designers & Books, 2015). Since Pei already succeeded and became an international fashion icon following this business model, the designer’s export plan will follow the same model – conceptualizing and creating custom made or made to order haute couture for clients. Majority of Pei’s clients are A-listers or part of the elite but the designer also caters to other upper middle class to upper class clients who need custom made wedding dresses (Sudworth, 2015). To cater to Pei’s clients, the designer would have to rent out office space in Manhattan or Brooklyn, the upmarket boroughs in New York. Pei’s office space will be for consulting with clients, although Pei could arrange meetings with her clients in different settings depending on the request and availability of these clients, and will also function as Pei’s showroom that displays the designer’s work and portfolio for clients.
Aside from carrying on with Pei’s current business model, the designer may also diversify by addressing other needs of customers in New York. Many A-listers live in New York, from artists to elite business men, which means that Pei would be closer to existing and potential clients. Nonetheless, Pei could also take advantage of the current New York lifestyle by continuing the designer’s RTW line. Hence, Pei’s business model could go two ways – custom made or made to order haute couture, and retail RTW. The time needed to realize Pei’s designs, however, would mean that most of her designs would be limited edition and not for mass production. For Pei’s retail RTW, the designer needs to purchase or rent out store space in Manhattan, particularly in SoHo where most upscale retail stores are located. Pei can also collaborate with other New York-based retail stores such as Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, and Macy’s to save on store space while taking advantage of these stores’ clientele to popularize her brand.
Pei can deliver the needs of demands by her clients considering her current resources. Pei has employed 400 craftsmen, most of whom work in China (Fide, 2015), while other craftsmen travel to other places as the need arises (i.e. when they need to outsource from or create materials in other countries). Nonetheless, since Pei would be expanding through retail RTW and would expectedly be accommodating more clients due to her new-found fame, the designer would have to hire more employees. This would increase the lead time not only for completing custom made haute couture pieces but also to deliver the demand for Pei’s planned RTW collection. It is necessary for Pei to hire more craftsmen that would be based in China and in New York to meet client’s demand. Considering these points, Pei’s pieces will be created by her hired craftsmen in China and New York depending on the type of work needed, design, and the time needed to complete the pieces or designs.
Marketing and Promotion Plan
Pei also needs to stick with her signature concepts and designs as a means of promoting her brand because these are what makes her works different from that of other designers’ products. Pei’s work is known for exoticism and for representing Chinese culture, as well as globalizing Chinese culture through fashion (Janine, 2015). For this reason, it is important that Pei remain true to the essence of her brand to differentiate her work from that of other designers.
Designers & Books. (2015). Guo Pei. Retrieved from: http://www.designersandbooks.com/designer/bio/guo-pei
Fide. (2015). Guo Pei. Retrieved from: http://fidefashionweeks.com/designers/guo-pei/
Janine. (2015). M.A.C. Guo Pei collection, fall 2015. Retrieved from: http://imabeautygeek.com/2015/05/05/mac-guo-pei-collection/
Kimmel, A. J. (2015). People and products: Consumer behavior and product design. New York, NY: Routledge.
Lister, J. (2014). Government regulations that affect marketing in retail. Retrieved from: http://smallbusiness.chron.com/government-regulations-affect-marketing-retail-35217.html
Sudworth, J. (2015). Guo Pei: Pop star Rihanna’s fashion designer of choice. Retrieved from: http://www.bbc.com/news/business-33239852
Thomas, N. (2015). Rihanna’s 25 kg Met dress thrusts Chinese designer Guo Pei into spotlight. Retrieved from: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/15/us-fashion-china-guopei-idUSKBN0O01BT20150515
Tse, R. (2015). M.A.C. taps Chinese haute couture designer Guo Pei for its latest collab. Retrieved from: http://www.fashionmagazine.com/beauty/2015/04/30/mac-guo-pei/