While covering the Oslo Runway event in Norway in August, this Global Times reporter encountered a strange phenomenon. Her Asian face and live-streaming Putonghua session on popular Chinese social media platforms resulted in herself becoming an interviewee by her Western media counterparts.
They wondered why Chinese media was in Norway, how much Chinese people know about Norway and its fashion brands and if Norwegian companies would be able to enter into and succeed in China's huge retail market.
Just as the Chinese have many stereotypes of Norway and its people, the Global Times found that Norwegians likewise think of China as mostly Beijing, kung fu, green tea and the Great Wall. Similarly, the people of Norway have little awareness of the Chinese fashion industry.
The fact that designers, fashion industry businessmen and the organizers of Oslo Runway attach great importance to China's recognition of Norwegian brands is very obvious, as the Global Times were provided many opportunities to interview local designers, entrepreneurs and experts.
Cecilie B. Melli, owner and creative director of Cecilie Melli, a brand that focuses on wedding gowns, told the Global Times that she is thinking of expanding her business to the US and China. Melli found a gap in the global wedding gown market in the year 2000 when she started to receive "brides to be" as customers after two years as a bridal consultant in Oslo.
She said that with more Chinese young people choosing to take overseas honeymoons, it would be great if the combination of Norway's natural scenery and her wedding gowns could attract fashionable Chinese couples.
Optimism and excitement
Andreas Engell, CEO and owner of GaitLine, a partner of Fam Irvoll, also expressed that after grabbing a certain market share in the Scandinavian region, his enterprise optimistically hopes that their New York and China debut can be dually achieved by 2018.
With more than 400 shops in Norway, Sweden and Denmark selling GaitLine brand shoes, Engell said that the North American and Asian markets are their next strategic field. "Mind your step, establish symmetry, stability and balance," is the slogan of the patented shoemaker.
Engell is optimistic that Chinese people will accept his shoes more easily as the traditional Chinese medical theory and his concept of keeping balance overlap to some degree. "Before our official entry into Chinese market, words spreading of our brand is also important to us," Engell said.
His team told the Global Times that they realized the importance of Chinese social media platforms such as Weibo and WeChat, and they would like to have new forms of promotion for those unique Chinese trends.
Christina Ledang, stylist and owner of C.L.E.A.N by Christina Ledang, told the Global Times that she was more than excited to discover that one of her products was in fact appearing in a popular Chinese TV show, although she has no idea how that happened.
Ledang explained to the Global Times that her father was born in China, and although she doesn't know much about the Chinese fashion industry, she would be glad to see Chinese people become clients and customers, wearing clothes and accessories designed by her.
These interviewees represent the many Norwegian enterprises and individuals who have ambitious Chinese dreams.
Elise Chen, managing director of Norwegian-Chinese Commerce Chamber (NCCC), told the Global Times that an increasing number of companies in Norway are showing strong interests in expanding their business in China.
NCCC's mission is to provide a professional and social forum for those wishing to participate in Norwegian-Chinese business and cultural communities, thus promoting business opportunities between the two countries.
Chen said that her organization is happy to finally see more cultural and trade exchange between the two nations. "When we got the news that Chinese journalists were invited to cover Oslo Runway, we were glad to see more designers, brands and products here would be received by Chinese readers. Fashion is yet another field that the two countries can dig more commercial opportunities out of."
Norwegian models pose at the event. Photo: Feng Yu/GT
Christina Ledang and her husband, who is wearing a C.L.E.A.N sweater designed by her Photo: Feng Yu/GT
Andreas Engell Photo: Feng Yu/GT
Cecilie B. Melli Photo: Feng Yu/GT