And the need for luxury is growing in the once Communist world:
PARIS, March 12, 2006 (AFP) - The international luxury goods sector is on the brink of an unprecedented growth spurt, buoyed by the emergence of a new class of wealthy clients from China, Russia, India and Brazil.
In just a few years the major luxury-goods companies have opened more than 300 shops in China, where the leather goods house Louis Vuitton plans to open two or three shops annually in the coming years.
By 2011 the Chinese are expected to overtake the Japanese as the world's biggest consumers of luxury goods.
"China is undoubtedly the driver of growth in demand for luxury goods. It is doing for the market now what Japan did 15 years ago," says Maria Menendez, analyst with the Swiss bank Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch.
Menendez believes the annual growth rate for the sector, excluding US brands, should in the medium-to-long-term reach seven percent.
"And that's just the average," she continues. "For some less mature sectors such as jewellery, annual growth will top nine percent."