Givenchy names actress Nanao Arai its first Japanese ambassador

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Since its regional representation strategy initiated in 2017, the LVMH group’s fashion house had never before chosen a Japanese actress to embody its image in the Land of the Rising Sun.

 

A sign of the winds of diversity blowing through the luxury industry, more and more luxury brands are opting for ambassadors who are far removed from the Western beauty canon, representing their key markets right down to the glossy page.

 

A choice by the artistic director

 

Givenchy has just appointed Nanao Arai as its brand ambassador in Japan. This is the first time that the fashion house has chosen a Japanese actress.

 

The 34-year-old has appeared in numerous dramas – Asian TV series – and films, including Hell’s Garden and ‘Ninja Ni Kekkon Wa Muzukashii’. The latter is a soap opera telling the story of two ninjas from a rival clan, married but each unaware of the other’s identity.

 

According to the brand’s press release, this choice, initiated by the brand’s current artistic director, was based on the actress’s personality, elegance and strength, which resonate with the spirit of the brand.

 

“I greatly admire Nanao for her professional versatility as well as her energy and personal style. She will be the perfect ambassador for Japan and I look forward to working with her,” said Matthew M. Williams, Givenchy’s creative director, who succeeded Riccardo Tisci in June 2020.

 

In turn, the ambassador thanked the House for this unprecedented choice: “I am very honoured to be named ambassador of Givenchy in Japan. Givenchy is a timeless brand that elevates me as a woman and as an actress. I look forward to collaborating with the House on my personal expressions of elegance, which I consider to be a very important and key theme, whether I’m in front of the camera or not”.

 

Photographer Leslie Kee, a close friend of Nanao, captured the actress’ elegance and strength in black and white in her first official portrait for Givenchy.

 

Mianzi and internationalisation

 

For a long time, the luxury goods industry focused on representing beauty in its traditional markets of Europe and the United States. This decision has led to a lack of diversity in its communication campaigns.

 

However, as the share of Asian markets in global sales of luxury products has grown exponentially – currently 30% in China and 40% by 2030 – it has become vital to offer its customers other representations in order to facilitate their identification and reinforce the effectiveness of its narratives.

 

In fact, China and other Asian cultures attach great importance to the ‘face’ or Mianzi. This concept goes far beyond mere physical appearance and reflects a person’s good character, morality, dignity and honour.

 

In Japan, this mianzi, which can be translated by the Western notion of ‘reputation’, is part of the practice of Honne/Tatemae. This set of rules governs interpersonal relations and requires people not to inconvenience the other person, even if it means concealing negative emotions.

 

This concept governs the choice of any brand ambassador, bearing in mind that in cultures that value the social ego – the representation of the individual within the group – a celebrity in Asia has a power of prescription that has no comparison with stars in Europe.

 

This is why Givenchy set up its regional representation project in Japan in 2017. It initiated this strategy with Maria Tani, a mixed Japanese-Pakistani model and actress from Tokyo. A talent in the making, but one that fitted perfectly with the image of the Givenchy woman, both “aristocratic” and “entrepreneurial”.

 

 

Another LVMH Group company, jeweller Bulgari, recruited Koki, model, songwriter and daughter of Japanese actor Takuya Kimura, in 2018. In 2021, Fendi, also part of the world’s leading luxury brand, recruited Ryoko Yonekura as a brand ambassador to celebrate the brand’s establishment in the country 56 years earlier.

 

Japan is no longer the only country to benefit from a regional embodiment strategy. Brands have also taken the plunge in other countries such as China, India, South Korea and Thailand.

 

Burberry, which at the time generated 40% of its sales in the Asia-Pacific region (APAC), collaborated with Chinese musician Kris Wu in 2016. Closer to home, jeweller Pomellato relied on three Chinese ambassadors: Cici Xiang, Cya Liu and He Ruixian, models and actresses respectively for the latter two.

 

This strategy is reminiscent of the extreme versatility of the members of the group BlackPink, or that of Givenchy, which recruited the four members of the Kpop group Aespa in 2022.

 

Last January, Givenchy also turned to South Korean singer Taeyang, a member of the Kpop group Big Bang, while Dior Homme recruited Jimin, the leader of the group BTS.

 

Other markets increasingly targeted by luxury brands include Thailand. The recruitment of Lisa, the mixed-race singer from the group Blackpink, by a number of brands is evidence of the growing appeal of the country, which has become one of the most popular holiday destinations for the Chinese thanks to the deconfinements. Bulgari, Céline and Prada have all called on the Thai-born rapper, dancer and model.

 

Like other members of Kpop groups, she has the advantage of mastering a number of languages, including Korean, Thai, Japanese and English. This facilitates the internationalisation of artists and, at the same time, increases the influence of brands in several regions of Asia at the same time.

 

Last but not least, India is a firm favourite when it comes to the geographical expansion of luxury goods.

 

Gucci recently unveiled its very first ambassador of Indian origin. Once again, this choice reveals the Kering Group’s great ambitions for the Indian market.

 

LVMH and Japan: an intimate bond

 

The choice of Nanao Arai reaffirms the importance of the Japanese market for LVMH, the parent company of Givenchy.

 

In the first quarter of 2023, the luxury group achieved 34% sales growth in Japan. The country also contributed 7% of its international revenues, estimated at €21 billion.

 

Even before the consolidated LVMH group emerged in the late 1980s, Maison Vuitton had developed a strong link with Japan. Indeed, the brand opened its very first point of sale in 1978 in Tokyo.

 

Before the end of the Cultural Revolution in China, the land of the rising sun was for a long time the cash cow of the LVMH group.

 

Luxury brands have found it a market capable of constantly raising luxury standards, whether in terms of product quality or customer relations.

 

A model of excellence that continues to this day in the luxury ecosystem, right down to the packaging: the silk paper wrapping is a reference to the Furoshiki tradition, an ancestral tradition from the Nara era, more than 1,200 years ago.

 

The LVMH group has discovered a culture where tradition and modernity harmoniously coexist. The country has also been a formidable breeding ground for creative talent, with artists such as Yayoi Kusama, Takashi Murakami and Rei Kawakubo playing with consumer culture like no one else.

 

Lightning, héroïne de Final Fantasy, premier signe de l’attrait du luxe pour le Cool Japan et les égéries nippones dès 2013 © Louis Vuitton

 

It has to be said that Japan has the soft power to rival the dominant American model. At the end of the 1970s, the country successfully transformed its economy, converting part of its electronics business into the production of exportable cultural goods such as video games, manga and food.

 

Video games have been the key to LVMH’s entry into the Japanese market. Just think of Lightning, the heroine of the Final Fantasy franchise and the first virtual ambassador for Vuitton in 2013. This initiative followed in the footsteps of Prada, which a year earlier had offered branded skins for characters from Activision’s videogame saga, which was celebrating its 25th anniversary at the time.

 

© LVMH

 

Givenchy was later than Louis Vuitton in setting up shop in Japan, opening its first flagship shop – a three-storey shop – in the Tokyo district of Omotesando in 2014. The retail strategy at the time consisted of streamlining its wholesale network, which a year earlier still accounted for three quarters of the company’s revenues, although at the time it only had around twenty directly-operated shops worldwide.

 

The boutique served as the showcase for Clare Waight Keller’s very first collection in 2018.

 

Read also > At Vivatech, LVMH promises “tech dreams”!

 

Featured photo : © Givenchy[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row njt-role=”not-logged-in”][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Since its regional representation strategy initiated in 2017, the LVMH group’s fashion house had never before chosen a Japanese actress to embody its image in the Land of the Rising Sun.

 

A sign of the winds of diversity blowing through the luxury industry, more and more luxury brands are opting for ambassadors who are far removed from the Western beauty canon, representing their key markets right down to the glossy page.

 

A choice by the artistic director

 

Givenchy has just appointed Nanao Arai as its brand ambassador in Japan. This is the first time that the fashion house has chosen a Japanese actress.

 

The 34-year-old has appeared in numerous dramas – Asian TV series – and films, including Hell’s Garden and ‘Ninja Ni Kekkon Wa Muzukashii’. The latter is a soap opera telling the story of two ninjas from a rival clan, married but each unaware of the other’s identity.

 

According to the brand’s press release, this choice, initiated by the brand’s current artistic director, was based on the actress’s personality, elegance and strength, which resonate with the spirit of the brand.

 

“I greatly admire Nanao for her professional versatility as well as her energy and personal style. She will be the perfect ambassador for Japan and I look forward to working with her,” said Matthew M. Williams, Givenchy’s creative director, who succeeded Riccardo Tisci in June 2020.

 

In turn, the ambassador thanked the House for this unprecedented choice: “I am very honoured to be named ambassador of Givenchy in Japan. Givenchy is a timeless brand that elevates me as a woman and as an actress. I look forward to collaborating with the House on my personal expressions of elegance, which I consider to be a very important and key theme, whether I’m in front of the camera or not”.

 

Photographer Leslie Kee, a close friend of Nanao, captured the actress’ elegance and strength in black and white in her first official portrait for Givenchy.

 

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Since its regional representation strategy initiated in 2017, the LVMH group’s fashion house had never before chosen a Japanese actress to embody its image in the Land of the Rising Sun.

 

A sign of the winds of diversity blowing through the luxury industry, more and more luxury brands are opting for ambassadors who are far removed from the Western beauty canon, representing their key markets right down to the glossy page.

 

A choice by the artistic director

 

Givenchy has just appointed Nanao Arai as its brand ambassador in Japan. This is the first time that the fashion house has chosen a Japanese actress.

 

The 34-year-old has appeared in numerous dramas – Asian TV series – and films, including Hell’s Garden and ‘Ninja Ni Kekkon Wa Muzukashii’. The latter is a soap opera telling the story of two ninjas from a rival clan, married but each unaware of the other’s identity.

 

According to the brand’s press release, this choice, initiated by the brand’s current artistic director, was based on the actress’s personality, elegance and strength, which resonate with the spirit of the brand.

 

“I greatly admire Nanao for her professional versatility as well as her energy and personal style. She will be the perfect ambassador for Japan and I look forward to working with her,” said Matthew M. Williams, Givenchy’s creative director, who succeeded Riccardo Tisci in June 2020.

 

In turn, the ambassador thanked the House for this unprecedented choice: “I am very honoured to be named ambassador of Givenchy in Japan. Givenchy is a timeless brand that elevates me as a woman and as an actress. I look forward to collaborating with the House on my personal expressions of elegance, which I consider to be a very important and key theme, whether I’m in front of the camera or not”.

 

Photographer Leslie Kee, a close friend of Nanao, captured the actress’ elegance and strength in black and white in her first official portrait for Givenchy.

 

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Victor Gosselin
Victor Gosselin is a journalist specializing in luxury, HR, tech, retail, and editorial consulting. A graduate of EIML Paris, he has been working in the luxury industry for 9 years. Fond of fashion, Asia, history, and long format, this ex-Welcome To The Jungle and Time To Disrupt likes to analyze the news from a sociological and cultural angle.

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