Several months ago, a photo of China’s new first lady, Peng Liyuan stepping out of a jet on a state visit to Russia, wearing a dark trench coat and toting a leather handbag, went viral on Sina Weibo (China version of Twitter), as users speculated on the brand of Peng’s bag.
Initially, Weibo users speculated that the bag was by Italian luxury brand Tod’s, but others were quick to identify the brand of the purse — as well as Peng’s jacket — as Guangzhou’s Exception (Exception de Mixmind). After being confirmed by an Exception PR representative, the discovery immediately set off a firestorm of interest in the brand on Sina Weibo.
While it’s too early to say whether Peng Liyuan’s endorsement of Exception is the brand’s “Jason Wu moment,” it’s certainly a big moment for the company, which already has its fair share of high-profile admirers. As CKGSB Knowledge wrote of the label last December:
“Exception has built a significant presence of over 100 stores in the Eastern cities of Beijing and Shanghai as well as their home base, the growing metropolis of Guangzhou. Exception is touted as the Chinese fashion industry success story and has an estimated annual turnover of more than RMB 900 million a year. Founder Mao Jihong claims that he’s the biggest in the market. Industry observers such as fashion media mogul Hung Huang have put the brand at the top of their watchlist for homegrown brands with the potential to make it big abroad.”
Peng’s Exception handbag
Netizens initially thought Peng’s bag was this model, made by Italian brand Tod’s
The more interesting long-term implications of Peng Liyuan’s domestic-label style are that home-grown Chinese designers and brands could ultimately play a part in the central government’s ongoing frugality campaign in Beijing. While it’s unlikely that high-ranking bureaucrats will ditch their Audis for Red Flags anytime soon, we’ve already predicted that China home grown fashion brand sales will be better in 2013 than in 2012. The most visible government officials are already leaving their Swiss watches and Hermès belts at home for fear of netizen scrutiny. Now, led by Peng Liyuan, we just might see the wives of top officials doing the same with their Birkin bags and Burberry trenches.