Victoria's Secret fashion show hits Shanghai

SHANGHAI - Victoria's Secret brought its racy annual fashion show to Shanghai on Monday night, making its debut in China's growing lingerie market in typical brazen style but with added Chinese flair, with performances from musicians including Harry Styles and Miguel.

English heartthrob Harry Styles headlined the musical acts as the world's top models strutted in skimpy bras and underwear in Shanghai's Mercedes Benz Arena, in what the US lingerie brand dubs the sexiest show on earth.
The show, now in its 23rd year, has faced past criticism for leaning heavily towards western models, but this year it features a record of 55 women from 20 countries.

Women's clothing brand Victoria's Secret has wrapped its first ever fashion show in China, although the brand's move east has not been without its issues.

image credit: interenet

Its annual fashion show is touted as the most expensive in the world, with Ed Razek, the show's executive producer, telling the New York Times that 2016's event costs $20 million. The show features diamond and Swarovski-adorned costumes, and this year includes a collaboration with French fashion label Balmain.

The big-spending strategy could resonate well in the Chinese marketplace. Anusha Couttigane, senior fashion analyst at consultancy firm Kantar Retail, told CNBC that in order to capture Chinese shoppers' attention, "it is essential (for brands) to have some fanfare as Chinese consumers tend to be responsive to grand, high profile showcases."

The Chinese underwear market was worth 144.4 billion yuan ($21.8 billion) in 2016, according to the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.

This is serious business. Demand for high-end women’s underwear is surging in China, as real wages rise and women’s social attitudes change. Sales volumes have doubled in five years to $18bn (£14bn). For reference, the combined efforts of all the queues of sheepish men outside Britain’s knicker shops this Christmas will drive the UK total to just $2bn. But the average Chinese retail outlet still prefers functionality over seductiveness – with shop window displays that would make the ladies underwear section at Marks & Spencer look risque. Into this gap have surged numerous online-only Chinese underwear brands, selling designer garments at less than half price of the equivalent VS product. But their presence in the malls, where the young salaried women shop is still minimal. So battle is commenced – with the Chinese brands engaged in a price war against each other, while being relentlessly boosted by the state-owned media against the foreign competition. The ultimate prize is significant: whoever wins brand supremacy, once China’s 200 million young adult women are prepared to buy bras at $90 (£68) a time, will be raking in large profits.

At the same time, let's take a look at this year's show episode.

Its annual show was held in Shanghai this year, but politics in the region caused problems for the event organizers. Katy Perry, who was expected to perform, was reportedly denied visa entry for wearing a sunflower-adorned dress while performing in Taiwan back in 2015. The flower is the emblem of the island's anti-China movement.

Meanwhile, supermodel Gigi Hadid announced via Twitter last week that she would not be taking part in the show.

Supermodel Alessandra Ambrosio exclusively revealed to ET’s Kevin Frazier that this year’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in Shanghai, China, will be her last. An Angel is flying away from the catwalk!

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