Understanding Chinese Consumers Purchase Intention of Cultural Fashion Clothing Products: Pragmatism over Cultural Pride

By Liu, Chuanlan; Xing, Le | Journal of International Business Research, Annual 2017 | Go to article overview

Understanding Chinese Consumers Purchase Intention of Cultural Fashion Clothing Products: Pragmatism over Cultural Pride


Liu, Chuanlan, Xing, Le, Journal of International Business Research


INTRODUCTION

During the last few decades, the trade success in textiles and apparel has not only contributed significantly to China's modernization, globalization, and economic success, but also helped cultivate its fashion industry. In the process of achieving economic success, China has nurtured the largest-consumer population with increasing desire for more fashionable clothing. The size of the market, 1.36 billion residents (China Population Statistic Report, 2015), plus the increasing spending power of many Chinese consumers, has attracted brands from the fashion world to expand market in China. The trend of chinoiserie which features Chinese traditional cultural elements and styles started when China' economy took off (Clark & Milberg, 2011). Meanwhile, a significant number of designers, manufacturers, and consumers in China appear to have gradually embraced the trend, making Asian chic a chic in China.

The on-going dynamic cultural interchange and interaction between China and the rest of fashion world increased national self-consciousness and the anxiety for recognition of Chinese culture and fashion design on the world stage (Finnane, 2005). Within the broad social and political environments, the Chinese fashion industry's rapid development appears to be parallel with the linear progression of Chinese clothing styles' changes and proliferations. In fact, the state played a leading role in clothing style diversification, directing and facilitating Chinese fashion industry development as well as affecting individual consumers' consumption orientations (Sun, D'Alessandro, & Johnson, 2014; Zhao, 2013). On one hand, the Chinese government has significantly supported its fashion industry to give it a chance to show on the global fashion stage. On the other hand, the government support limits the Chinese fashion industry's free creativity and innovativeness, which are critical to cultivating leading fashion designers and brands, and gaining recognition in the world fashion field (Schroeder, Borgerson, &Wu, 2015; Zhao, 2013).

The cultural interchange and interaction between China and the rest of world has not been balanced or even (Zhao, 2013). The Chinese styles and cultural heritage have been recognized as one of the most influential sources for Western designers to get oriental inspiration and create Asian chic (Yu, Kim, Lee, & Hong, 2001). Global brands have utilized Chinese-inspired designs and patterns to launch product lines catering to the rising wealthy Chinese consumers. However, China domestic market of culturally inspired fashion and fashionable ethnic clothing has been fragmented without internationally recognized leading brands or designers. For domestic fashion practitioners, historical and traditional Chinese cultural resources provide a great repertoire for creative designs, a cultural context for the product, and brand positioning with less international competition. However, without world recognition, the Chinese fashion industry has limited power to set trends utilizing and capitalizing on its rich cultural heritage (Finnane, 2005).

Dress is among the most visible symbols of cultural interchange and communication. For most cultures, ethnic clothing is also a symbol of identity and a basic means of communication among people of commonality (Roach-Higgins & Eicher, 1992). With the increasing economic success and national self-consciousness, the desire for a national dress to represent the national spirit and identity and boosting the cultural economy of fashion industry, get stronger among state leaders and Chinese fashion industry practitioners. In the early 21st century, when China was experiencing enormous growth and becoming increasing confident in its encounter with the West, the state took the opportunity to host for the first time the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit and invented a national dress called the Tangzhuang, trying to reflect both traditional Chinese flavor and modern ideas (Zhao, 2013). …

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