HONG KONG (AP) – Giorgio Armani wants to expand his fashion empire in China – a place he says has always inspired his designs.

“You can see from my retrospective show that many products reflect the Chinese inspiration,” Armani said Thursday.

He was on his way to Shanghai, where an exhibition of more than 500 of his designs and sketches was to be staged at the Shanghai Art Museum.

“The smiles I see when walking down the street, and other small details, they all give me inspiration,” the designer said.

Armani, who owns more than 30 stores in mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, said he saw potential in China for expansion in the brand’s fashion, home furnishings and resort lines.

Most of his Chinese sales come from the more affordable Emporio Armani line.

The Greater China market now accounts for 20 percent of Armani’s Asian sales – second only to the dominant Japanese market, said John Hooks, group commercial and marketing director.

“We’re pushing ahead aggressively, and see lots of potential in the secondary cities,” Hooks said. “We’ve revised upwards our plans and aim to have 40 to 50 more stores here in the next five years.”