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Major retail players, such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Gap Inc. and Coach Inc., along with designer brands like Chanel, Lanvin, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs, are either making plans to enter the Asia-Pacific region — or they've arrived already. In 2006, the Asia-Pacific region as a whole brought in $160.1 billion in apparel and footwear retail sales — that number is expected to grow by 5.2 percent to $168.3 billion in 2007. So, which countries are excelling in the region? WWD asked London-based market-intelligence firm Euromonitor International to provide the region's top countries, ranked by their estimated apparel and footwear retail sales for this year.
Total projected 2007 clothing and footwear retail sales: $76.7 billion
Fueled by Japanese corporate giants like Fast Retailing Co. Ltd. (Uniqlo stores), World Co. Ltd. (Hushush stores) and Sanei International Co. Ltd. (Sanei stores), Japan leads the pack — not surprising given its consumers' taste for fashion of all kinds. And while the luxury sector has seen slower growth over the last few quarters, brands like Armani continue to rush in. "Gleaming luxury towers keep springing up in Ginza, and Bulgari is the latest to join the crush," said WWD last week. The Italian jewelry and leather goods brand has taken things a step further, however, by opening two major stores in Tokyo in the last few weeks. In addition, WWD reported Monday that Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana have plans for more store openings in Japan.
China might be a focus for many brands at the moment, but its Asian neighbor India is attracting increasing attention thanks to growing wealth and changes in laws regulating retail ownership. Topshop's owner, Sir Philip Green, is in talks to enter India in the near future; Dolce & Gabbana will open in New Delhi early next year, and Italy's Benetton SpA has signed an agreement with Trent, the retail arm of the Tata Group, to develop its Sisley brand in India. Gucci opened its first boutique in India, in Mumbai, in September: The expansion in India fits in with the company's overall strategy to further develop its business in the Asia-Pacific region.