With an iconic red heart shape, AMI - a Parisian designer brand has hence embarked on an extraordinary journey of viral expansion in Asia. Wielding its highly appreciated designing style and its growing commercialized value, captivating fashion buyers and setting a benchmark that leaves many other struggling designers in awe.
AMI was founded by French designer Alexandre Mattiussi in 2011, positioned as a luxury designer label. It focuses on essential items such as denim jackets, shirts, and hoodies, blending vintage streetwear with minimalistic style. Renowned for its intricate details and premium quality running throughout its collections, AMI embodies a spirit of positivity and joyful living, offering a lifestyle carried by the important meaning of the brand - "friendship" in the eyes of its consumers.
AMI's denim pieces have consistently been bestsellers, and their iconic red heart logo has become instantly recognizable. Alexandre Mattiussi once expressed his desire as to cater to various dressing needs for different occasions with simple essential pieces. AMI meticulously crafts fashionable silhouettes using high-quality fabrics, and offers a wide range of color choices in every style of its basic garments.
AMI's popularity has surged in recent years especially following the resurgence of the Normcore style after Covid 19. It has garnered a dedicated following among fashion-forward young consumers in China, thanks to its versatile designs, the memorable red heart logo and approachable pricings.
In 2021, as AMI celebrated its 10th anniversary, it secured strategic investment from Sequoia Capital China, following a successful 2020 where they exceeded €50 million in annual sales. This partnership with Sequoia Capital China has accelerated AMI's global expansion efforts.
However, AMI has already recognized the immense potential in China market way before – early in 2016, they opened their first China based store in Hong Kong. By 2018, they had expanded into mainland China through launching stores in Beijing's Sanlitun and Chengdu's Taikoo Li. In 2019, AMI held its first overseas fashion show in Shanghai.
In 2020 AMI built a subsidiary team in Shanghai managing local business operations in China. The brand launched its official flagship store on Tmall, WeChat, and JD.com. Today, AMI has extended its retail presence to new first-tier cities such as Nanjing, Hangzhou, and Chongqing, solidifying China as one of its most crucial markets in its global strategy.
AMI has debuted F.AMI.LY art exhibition in collaboration with Magnum Photos at Shanghai International Art Fair on April 20th. Through a "family" themed artistic photography series, 13 photographers and 2 special video artists from Magnum Photos were given “carte blanche” to offer their personal interpretations in which they vividly encapsulated AMI's brand ideology.
Camille Maquin, General Manager China & APAC of AMI, discussed the brand's future development, industrial competition, and other prospects of business in China market during a dialogue with ConCall.
ConCall: Why was Shanghai chosen as the final global stop for this exhibition?
Camille Maquin: China holds a special place for AMI, being one of the brand's most significant markets. Bringing the F.AMI.LY to Shanghai serves as a vital means of engaging with Chinese consumers and the brand community. It also allows us to convey diverse interpretations of "family," a crucial theme in our brand identity and core philosophy. Additionally, the Shanghai Image Art Exhibition is one of the leading photography art exhibitions in the Asia-Pacific region, attracting numerous visual artists, outstanding works, and a discerning art-loving audiences. Participating in this event presents a rare opportunity to promote our international project in collaboration with Magnum Photos.
ConCall: AMI has undoubtedly faced stiff competition in the Chinese market, with many brands sharing a similar positioning. In your view, what sets AMI apart from others in China fashion market?
Camille Maquin: Firstly, it's the unique perspective on fashion held by our brand founder and creative director, Alexandre Mattiussi. AMI's products are about design aesthetics, high quality, and timeless contemporary styles, all offered at a reasonable price that accurately reflects the products’ value. Secondly, the brand name "AMI" means "friend" in French, and we aim to convey a positive and optimistic brand spirit to different consumers, which was resonated deeply by our Chinese consumers in terms of our brand philosophy. Lastly, our long-term vision for the Chinese market involves maintaining a consistent brand positioning across online and offline channels, supported by a strong local team, to drive brand’s growth in a more localized manner.
ConCall: What significance does the investment from Sequoia Capital China hold for the brand's development in the Chinese and global markets?
Camille Maquin: Since 2021, our collaboration with Sequoia Capital China has been highly successful. With their investment, we expanded into different regional markets and introduced new product categories such as accessories, which has strengthened AMI's position as a luxury designer brand. The success of this investment collaboration hinges on a shared entrepreneurial vision and complementary expertise in our respective fields. Sequoia Capital China has been a valuable ally in our international expansion and digital transformation, while respecting and understanding AMI's brand values.
ConCall: From your observations, what characteristics define young Chinese consumers of today, and what attracts them to AMI?
Camille Maquin: Young Chinese consumers have unique perspectives on fashion and a deep understanding of what they want and need. They seek high quality, genuine design, and a strong and authentic brand ethos. AMI's fashion shows often put out wearable fashion of trendy spirits and inspiration, our designs on the runway are closely aligned with what are available in our stores. Chinese young consumers appreciate this, as they seek a brand that resonates with them on practicality and emotional values. This connection is a key reason why AMI has such a strong bond with nowadays consumers and their lifestyle.
ConCall: What are AMI's outlook for the Chinese market in the coming years?
Camille Maquin: Our goal is to forge a solid positioning as a true Parisian designer brand, offering a complete range of men's and women's fashion while continuing to provide wardrobe inspiration with outstanding quality at accessible prices. Furthermore, we will continue to expand our accessories collection, with a focus this year on the launch celebration of our new iconic bag, "Paris Paris." We will also further expand our retail presence in the Chinese market, concentrating on finding excellent retail destinations to reach more Chinese consumers.
AMI's successful collaboration with Sequoia Capital China can be seen in several areas, expanding locations with more brick and mortar stores, Cross-brand collaborations, new launch of womenswear and accessories line and extension, and brand digitalization etc.. The success of a designer brand in expanding and achieving outstanding market performance during the pandemic can be attributed to its unique brand philosophy, trendy wearable styles, localized operating strategies, pricing and positioning.
Compared to other more conservative European and American designer brands in the market, AMI clearly stood advantageously in its China market growth, and it shows no sign in slowing down on its ambition in this strategically crucial region. Its exemplary business model and results achievement are likely to become a referential case for other global expansion scheme from its competing European and American designer houses.