It is only the first step of a global journey, of course. But it is no coincidence that See LV, the traveling exhibition that celebrates the history of the French brand, starts right here. The Wuhan exhibition condenses what has been and what will be for the luxury market. Louis Vuitton’s choice is worth a programmatic manifesto.
See LV opened to the public on October 31st, and occupies two floors of Wuhan International Plaza. That is to say not only “the most glittering shopping centre in the capital of Hubei”, but a place located “a few hundred meters from the market where the virus first appeared almost a year ago”. The first level of interpretation is this: for Louis Vuitton, starting from Wuhan means closing, or at least healing, the wound of the pandemic.
It means celebrating “China’s success in containing the epidemic” and, at the same time, currying favour with the authorities of the People’s Republic. Because, as the Italian newspaper notes, Beijing’s priorities are first of all to “make people forget the origin” of Coronavirus and “rebuild the image” of the city that hosted the first outbreak.
Of course, there is also a second level of interpretation for the operation, linked to distribution. It is already known. Chinese were already the first high-end customers: among the consequences of the pandemic, there is the repatriation of their shopping. So, it is on mainland China that the brands’ commercial strategies will be focused.
In this sense, Louis Vuitton’s presence in Wuhan goes beyond the symbolic level. It is a “marketing operation with which it puts itself in the front row to reap the benefits of the rebound”, observes la Repubblica. The largest Asian market is set to extend beyond its traditional capitals, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Wuhan, a metropolis of 11 million inhabitants, is “the emblem of the opportunities that the Dragon offers to luxury brands”.
Because it is, together with cities like Chengdu (16.3 million inhabitants) and Hangzhou (10.3 million inhabitants), the new first segment of retail, the new border to conquer. LV, with its exhibition, plants the first flag.
Images from louisvuitton.com