Asia's couture craving feeds Singapore's haute hopes

Thu Apr 29, 2010 2:19pm EDT
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By Miral Fahmy

SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - Legions of status-seeking shoppers with deep pockets are turning Asia into the next big catwalk for international designers, boosting Singapore's aspirations to become the region's Milan or New York.

Asia's growing economic clout -- and the millions willing to spend top dollar on luxury lifestyles -- were the buzz words at Singapore's fashion festival, an annual event the country hopes will eventually become as important as counterparts in the United States and Europe, as well as the fashion gateway for the region.

"Western designers have realized there's a great deal of money to be had in Asia and they can see that customers in China and India are moving very quickly toward becoming consumers of the very highest level," Colin McDowell, creative director of the Audi Fashion Festival, told Reuters.

"In Paris, several designers told me that the Chinese have become their biggest couture customers. This is a new departure."

As the rest of the world still recovers from the global financial crisis, consumers in several economically robust Asian nations, including Singapore and China, are spending on luxury goods like the downturn never happened.

A recent study by market research firm Synovate dubbed China's consumers as the "new world order," with those in the top-tiers seen as hooked on the latest fashion trends and many believing that famous brands, and money, equal success.

Splurging on luxury goods is a treat often indulged in, the study of 68,000 people across 66 Chinese cities found, while a smaller survey by MasterCard showed many Asians were determined to keep on spending on fashion, gourmet food and luxury goods.


<p>Shoppers stand in a queue for a newly opened Louis Vuitton shop on Orchard Road in downtown Singapore July 9, 2009. REUTERS/Joel Boh</p>