12/19/2011 07:10 pm ET

Asian Shoppers In London Spending More Than In Asia?

Prada, Diane Von Furstenberg, Vivienne Westwood -- it seems like every American or Europe-based designer is building a new store in China or getting themselves on the Hong Kong stock exchange.

Asia is getting major attention from the fashion industry, mainly due to the perceived thirst for luxury goods across the continent. The biggest step most designers have taken is setting up shop in the biggest Asian cities -- just this month, Michael Kors unveiled three new stores in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Tokyo.

But the Financial Times reported recently that Asian shoppers are shopping -- but they're doing it in Europe. In an article entitled, "Luxury shoppers travel to UK for bargains," FT describes how Chinese and Japanese tourists are opening their wallets in England for designer goods.

The phenomenon is so strong, Burberry's CEO Angela Ahrendts gave it a name: the "Travelling Luxury Consumer." The "TLC" is Burberry's most important customer base, as the revenue from travelling Chinese shoppers surpasses the revenue earned from the China market alone.

"When Chinese consumers travel, they spend six times more than when they stay at home," Ahrendts tells FT. "Saying 'I bought this in London' adds further cachet."

Does this mean that designers like Kors and von Furstenberg are mistaken in pouring money into Asian flagships? Most likely not. But it does turn the conventional wisdom about the Asian market around, highlighting the shoppers themselves -- and where they shop -- as opposed to the locale.