By Anne Su
Godfrey Gao, a Taiwanese-Canadian model, has been chosen to campaign for the French luxury brand Louis Vuitton for its 2011 spring menswear line. This is the first time in history that Louis Vuitton has ever used an Asian model for its advertisement.
In his first debut photograph for LV, Gao showcased the newest Louis Vuitton Damier Graphite Elvis messenger bag. British newspaper The Guardian described Gao as having a “strong jaw line” and “manly forearm.”
Gao belongs to a part of the increase in recruitment of Asian models overall. More Asian faces are featured both on the runway and in campaigns of luxury brands. Supermodel Liu Wen from Beijing made her way to the 10th-highest-paid model in the world. Wen first appeared on the catwalk of Jean Paul Gaultier and Chanel in Paris. In November 2010, makeup brand Estee Lauder also signed a contract with Wen.
One interpretation of LV’s move is that it is finally recognizing the Asian demographic as an important contributor to its own growth. LV’s parent company, LVMH, posted a 26 percent profit increase for the first 10 months of last year compared to the same period the year prior.
In 2010, reports show that men had been spending more money on luxury goods than women in China. Sales of luxury goods in the Asia-Pacific region, excluding Japan, are increasing at higher rates than the U.S. or Europe, according to a study by research firm Bain & Company.
With the expanding market in Asia, will more familiar faces draw more consumers to luxury bags and clothing? Is this action taken by LV merely on the basis of marketing? Is it a statement about fashion having no exclusivity? Are designers finding their clothing more appealing on Asian models? We will have to wait and see.