From West to East
The French high-end LVMH-owned brand, Cha Ling, first appeared in the skin care industry in January 2016, where it launched in Le Bon Marche in Paris.
With its history and brand messaging based on Chinese tea traditions, the Parisian label has expanded into the Chinese market, launching its first store in mainland China and flagship store in Shanghai.
Hailed as the ancient Pu’er tea cosmetic luxury brand, Laurent Boillot, CEO, Guerlain, was the mastermind of the under-wraps project, which is thought to have taken five years to complete.
The collection’s products include Pu’er-infused cleansing powder, serum, massage cream and a 'steam tablet' for purifying pores. The selection, which ranges in price from $20 to $200, emanates from the Chinese classic tea culture.
The brand uses ingredients found in the Yunnan 500-old tea trees that are then developed in French Guerlain laboratories. After sourcing Pu’er tea from these forests, Boillot — along with inspiration from his meeting with German conservationist Josef Margraf and his wife Mingguo Li-Margraf — began conceptualising the product and preparing all the necessary research for formulation.
Pu’er tea contains a selection of active molecules, which are known to act as anti-ageing properties for the skin. This is a keen interest of Chinese consumers, who seek multiple natural and anti-ageing benefits.
In-store concepts and philosophy
Cha Ling, which opened its flagship store in the Tianhe District of Guangzhou, China, was conceptualised and created by Alan Chan. Following the popularity of personalisation of immersive shopping, the brand focused on developing an experience for all the senses. Lifestyle products ranging from perfume, clay teapots and ceramics, and forest-grown Pu’er tea are also on offer to demonstrate Eastern philosophies and principles.
“The story has touched my heart. My work was to create a visual dialogue and philosophy turning into an identity and somewhat emotion because Cha Ling is going to be found globally in the future,” said Alan Chan, creator of the newly-launched flagship store, to the press.
Culture and philosophy
Adopting an “oriental passion, western harmony” design philosophy, the retail area adorns Chinese elements that tell the brand’s story. A spa room is also located within the store to offer facial and massage treatments to consumers.
“I’m a true believer for a long time that China will present the best luxury brands. What is missing in our cosmetics industry at the moment is the lack of self-confidence of ‘made-in-China’,” noted Laurent Boillot, CEO, Guerlain to the press.
“What matters is luxury with a sense of purpose and I believe the right sense of purpose, especially in luxury, is sustainability. I hope our customers can engage with us and share the same value.”
Cha Ling, which translates as the “the spirit of tea” in Chinese quickly entered the Asian market space by opening two boutiques in Hong Kong.
Following its expansion into Shanghai, media reports have suggested that it is now gearing up to grow its strategic presence in China with stores in Beijing and Chengdu.