Taiwan Is at a Crossroads. Here's Why Brands Should Care.

'The real value of the Taiwanese fashion market can only be understood when it is not seen through the prism of its giant neighbour.'

11.1.2020

'The real value of the Taiwanese fashion market can only be understood when it is not seen through the prism of its giant neighbour.'

Tensions with Beijing have come into sharp focus ahead of Taiwan’s presidential election which takes place tomorrow. And there is a lot more at stake than first meets the eye.

Its downtown streets are safe and friendly, populated by throngs of young office workers, students and shoppers. Home to an interesting array of retailers, from major chains of malls such as Eslite to cool concept stores that stock niche brands and provide spaces to sip cold-brewed coffee while quietly leafing through the pages of a book, Taipei is an affluent and busy city, but one where people prioritise comfort and quality of life.

Taiwan’s Editor-in-Chief, Florence Lu, explains. “But if it’s not comfortable, they won’t consider it.”

In this month’s presidential elections, due to be held January 11, the people of Taiwan confront once again the enduring question of whether their future lies with the rising might of Beijing, or on self-reliance with support from sympathetic but increasingly subdued Western powers who fear jeopardising their own relationships with the Chinese government.

Taiwan recently posted 2.91 percent year-on-year GDP growth in the third quarter of 2019, bucking the sluggish trend of other trade-reliant Asian economies, such as Singapore, South Korea and Hong Kong. Taiwan’s growth in the July to September quarter beat analyst expectations and was higher than the 2.4 percent growth recorded in the second quarter of 2019.

six months ago, a situation that has increased Taiwanese focus on the potential for interference from Beijing should they get too close.

Tsai is up against Han Kuo-yu, who represents the Kuomingtang Party, which ruled Taiwan for decades before Tsai’s DPP party dethroned them to form a majority government for the first time in 2016. Han, the mayor of Kaohsiung, has comparatively conciliatory views toward Beijing.

It is into this environment that Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture has more assertively stepped in to promote domestic creative industries, including fashion. In October, the ministry, in conjunction with other government bodies, publisher Hearst Taiwan and powerful industry body, the Taiwan Textile Federation, held the second edition of Taipei Fashion Week.

“Taiwan’s textile industry is performing very well and is renowned around the world, a lot of international brands, [including] Adidas and Lululemon, are manufacturing here. This part [of the industry] is totally at an international level, but on the other hand, for independent design brands from Taiwan, it’s very difficult,” Lu says.

However, the real value of the Taiwanese fashion market can only be understood when it is

It has been the stability of Taiwan’s fashion market that has made it attractive enough for luxury brands to keep investing, particularly as Hong Kong’s reputation as a hub for luxury shopping has

The island’s uber-wealthy consumers – discreet and under-the-radar though they may be – make Taiwan an important staging post for international luxury brands.

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