Jacky Xu is one of the biggest names in China’s fashion industry. Since launching Trendy International Group in 1999 with his most successful fashion brand Ochirly, he has continued to build Trendy Group into a group with 12 brands and 3,000 stores across 290 cities in China. Jacky Xu graduated from three programs at CKGSB: the EMBA, Business Scholars Program and the CEO program.
In this new alumni series, we track down CKGSB’s most influential graduates, many of whom have gone on to lead unicorn companies – privately held companies valued at $1 billion USD or more. According to CB Insights – a global platform which provides authoritative and up-to-date information on the world’s billion-dollar private companies – China has created a total of 217 unicorn companies between 2017 to 2021. Thirty-nine (or 18%) of these companies are run by CKGSB alumni, including 35 companies where CKGSB alumni are founders or co-founders, and 4 companies where they serve as the chairman, CEO or president.
As China’s leading business school, it’s not surprising that CKGSB has been able to produce so many business leaders playing a pivotal role in China’s economic development. More than 18,000 successful entrepreneurs, industry leaders and executives of multinational corporations have chosen to study at CKGSB for the original China insights, world-class faculty and peer-to-peer learning with China’s movers-and-shakers. More than half of CKGSB’s alumni are at the CEO or Chairman level and, collectively, lead one-fourth of China’s most valuable brands.
Ochirly was the first brand launched by Jacky Xu in 1999. It was revolutionary for its time, branded as apparel for the modern, independent woman which appealed to the rising middle class. Xu wanted to bring Western fashion ideas to China, so called the brand Ou Shili (欧时力), meaning “the power of European fashion”. Xu said that the inspiration for his designs came from films, music and painting, to create a brand which brought together art and business.
In 2009, Jacky Xu explored apparel for the modern woman in China further with the launch of Five Plus. Xu said, “The idea for Five Plus came after a trip to Tokyo, sitting in cafés with like-minded designers, discussing art, fashion and trends.” He further explained, “Five Plus brings together various opposing styles into a harmonious whole. Randomness is expression of one’s personality.”
Xu launched into men’s fashion by introducing the brand TRENDIANO in 2010, and later the children’s market with Love Ysabel in 2011.
Subsequently, in 2012, the company expanded internationally, receiving USD $200 million in investment from the L Asia capital fund, managed by Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH). He also launched a partnership with the Italian brand Sixty Group to release its three denim wear brands into Asian markets: Miss Sixty, Energie and Killiah. Furthermore, Xu initiated a joint venture with the British-owned SuperGroup Plc, owner of the brand Superdry, to launch the brand into China in 2015.
Paving a New Way for Fashion in China
The success of Ochirly was significant as it opened a new market in Chinese fashion. It offered good-quality, affordable and an independent style of apparel that provided an alternative to three types of clothing brands: popular sports-based clothing brands such as Anta and Li-Ning, high-end international luxury brands such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton, and “fast fashion” companies like H&M and Zara.
It has not always been easy for Jacky Xu to compete in a market dominated by these brands. Recently, however, the concept of “Made in China” has changed and consumers are veering towards purchasing from domestic brands. Xu has also benefitted from changing ideas of fashion in China – young consumers are demanding original and forward-thinking products that allow them to express themselves with greater freedom.
Large spending on social media engagement, advertising and celebrity endorsements have positioned Ochirly as one of China’s largest domestic brands. Chinese celebrities such as Yao Chen, and American celebrities Kendell Jenner and Gigi Hadid, have recently modelled its collections, increasing the brand’s popularity with both Western and Chinese consumers.
Jacky Xu was listed at number 64 in 2016 on Forbes’ China Rich list with a wealth of USD $3.15 billion.