7 best fashion boutiques in China – WWD

A burgeoning multi-brand fashion retail scene has not only made shopping in China a more fun affair, but has carved out a space for local creatives who have made it a form of personal expression.

Seven stores in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Hangzhou and Shenzhen have made their mark on the local retail scene, while the minds behind them each present a unique point of view.

1. Myth, Beijing

Commonplace

Founded by Chinese artists Ji Zhang and Cheng Huang, Common Place was launched in 2016 after the duo graduated from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago.

Using a former industrial building owned by Zhang’s father, Common Place houses a men’s clothing store, an art gallery, and is partially used as Zhang’s personal art studio. Located outside the inner city of Beijing, the shop has made a name for itself within the city’s arts community.

Commonplace

“Some of my collector friends and college friends shop here,” says Zhang. “The brands we sell don’t need a lot of exposure. I prefer to sell fashion like galleries sell works of art. All I care about is that the right people see the pieces. “

In recent years, Common Place has gradually grown to include women’s clothing because it “made more business sense”. The shop was one of the first champions of local heroes like Windowsen and Rui.

Unless Zhang wants to quit working with a brand, items never go on sale at the Common Place, and the nearly 5,000-square-foot shop has ample real estate space to double as storage space for designers like Walter Van. Beirendonck, Boris Bidjan Saberi and Marc Le Bihan, as the store continues to take risks.

“We’ve always preferred lesser-known brands that seem like no one will ever buy,” says Zhang. “But if fashion is good, let’s keep working with them.” Having her father as a generous landlord means that Zhang and her partner “can afford to take a more Zen approach to retail.”

2. Anchoret, Beijing

Anchoret

Launched in 2012 as a small Beijing courtyard shop hutongor residential alleys, Anchoret moved to Taikoo Li Sanlitun in 2017, occupying a quiet corner of the famous shopping complex.

“We want to create a space cut off from the hustle and bustle of city life,” says Nicky Chau, half of the husband and wife duo behind Anchoret. “Just like the name of the shop, which means a recluse,” says Chau’s husband, Onkit Wong.

Originally from Hong Kong, Chau and Wong are drawn to Beijing for its “weirdness”.

Anchoret

“Beijing is very similar to Berlin: it looks battered, but it’s the city where most artists come to live and create,” says Chau. Local creatives, such as architects, directors, musicians and even celebrities, are Anchoret’s target audience, who prefer brands like Ziggy Chen, John Alexander Skelton, Peter Do, Hed Mayner, and Paul Harnden Shoemakers. “Our customers are looking for a sense of depth and rarity,” says Chau.

Anchoret will soon open a second store within a five-minute walk of its Taikoo Li store. “It’s so close to our store in the mall because there isn’t much street shop culture in Beijing,” explains Chau. The new store will feature a more unisex mix of brands and aim to provide a more intimate environment for its shoppers. “You won’t feel like you’re in the middle of Sanlitun the moment you walk into our shop,” promises Chau.

3. Machine-A, Shanghai

Machine-A

The first Chinese store of the legendary British fashion retailer landed in Shanghai more than a month ago. Located in an up-and-coming shopping complex in central Shanghai, the store feels like the home of those familiar with the Machine-A format, reflecting the bold buying and merchandising attitude of its founder Stavros Karelis.

For the launch of the store, Machine-A showcased design by New York-based Chinese designer Bad Binch Tongtong, whose bouncy hula hoop skirts had caused a sensation on social media. A Raf Simons shop-in-shop designed by Glenn Sestig, a close associate of Prada’s creative co-director, also occupies an important part of the store.

Machine-A

“Some brands may look different than when shown in other stores, perhaps a little more conceptual,” says Giovanni Pungetti, CEO of Asia at Tomorrow Group, who leads the local Machine-A operation from Shanghai. “We try to somehow create our own language of fashion, to create a community that goes beyond the social demographic profile.

“Engagement is the word that Stavros always uses,” adds Pungetti. “Commitment in terms of cultural attitudes and behaviors. We think in English, but we speak Chinese ”.

4. LMDS, Shanghai

LMDS

LMDS, short for Le Monde de SHC, was launched four years ago as a small designer boutique in a quiet area of ​​downtown Shanghai.

Stocked with fashion, lifestyle items, books and magazines, the store became a curated space reflecting founder Eric Young’s personal taste and lifestyle obsessions. The shop was somewhat a replica of his home, reflecting the aesthetic that meets East and West.

Staying true to his worldview, Young, a veteran GQ editor and executive of a boutique PR agency, has built a sophisticated “fashion playground” for the city’s stylish wealthy. The shop has since expanded to three floors of the building and a café.

“LMDS welcomes all types of fashion lovers. Since our store is in an unconventional outlet, guests have to look for us, but it’s a good filter to have, ”says Young. “Many of our clients are fashion industry or VIC clients of luxury brands. They come in the hope of finding different, tasteful and good quality pieces of design ”.

LMDS

LMDS will continue to broaden its reach of brands and formats to maintain relevance in the increasingly competitive Shanghai multi-brand boutique market. New brands this season include 16Arlington and Seekings. A trunk show by Dries Van Noten is also in the works. “I always pay attention to the general feeling of a new brand. Concept, design, product and stability are all critical factors. I still feel like a freshman in the retail industry, facing many challenges at times, but that won’t stop us from bringing something new to our customers every season. “

5. A hug, Chengdu

Hug

Just like its name, entering Hug is like a soft hug, a quiet expression of feminine energy. Located in a shopping mall in downtown Chengdu, Hug is a light-filled ground floor store that showcases concrete materials, curved tips and warm colors, portraying a modern yet natural aesthetic. “The world is full of ‘hype’ and superficial chatter. Hug’s existence is about presenting sincere, healthy and pure design to the world, ”says Vicky Yu, who founded Hug six years ago in Chengdu.

Hug has since expanded to two stores in Chengdu, the second of which is located within the same mall. One shop was recently refurbished into a pop-up shop by Jil Sander, a second for the OTB-owned brand in China, following the one hosted by LMDS this spring.

Hug

Hug also expanded out of Chengdu to a shop in Aranya and a pop-up shop in Shenzhen. He is also in charge of Uma Wang’s first Chengdu store, which opened last March.

This season, Hug has expanded her female point of view to include more playful brands, such as Jacquemus, Kiko Kostadinov’s women’s clothing line, Sunnei and Toga. The recently renovated flagship store also has an unexpected fun factor: a small manicure shop is tucked away in a small corner of the second floor. The juxtaposition of haute couture and nail art is the quintessence of Chengdu – a city known for its laid-back, laid-back lifestyle.

6. Block, Hangzhou

B1lock

Launched by the Hangzhou-based fashion company JNBY Group, B1ock occupies a 10-story building within the 17-office complex of the OoEli company, designed by Renzo Piano.

Positioned as the first department store for shoppers focusing on “contemporary art and lifestyle aesthetics in China”, B1ock contacted artist Theaster Gates to create works of art that add a touch of “unexpected spatial art” to the store. 64,000 square feet.

To add a sense of surprise and discovery, B1ock merchandise is updated every 15 days, while floor layouts are changed monthly.

A floor dedicated to the Japanese furniture and lifestyle brand D & Department, an art gallery, a B1ock Lab that allows customers to play with 3D printers and cutting machines and a terrace bar occupy floors six to nine.

“We want to provide the new generation of creatives with a true retail experience. Even if they leave without buying anything, they can still leave happy, “says B1ock co-founder Alessio Liu.

To satisfy the taste of the local public, the store features famous designer brands such as Maison Margiela, Marni, Thom Browne, Marc Le Bihan, Guidi, Rick Owens and Walter Van Beirendonck. A host of Chinese designers are also featured in the store, but commercially they are sold on a concession basis.

Hidden in the basement of the building, which Gates called “Home Pleasure”, are curiosities small and large like Japanese “washi” papers and JNBY dead fabrics. Liu says these objects have become popular with local creatives and art students studying at the prestigious China Academy of Art in downtown Hangzhou.

Walter Van Beirendonck appears at B1ock.

7. Banmen, Shenzhen

Banmen

Launched by Shenzhen Roaringwild streetwear brand founder Yang Cao in 2019, Banmen is one of the rare menswear-focused designer stores in China’s tech hub.

The store aims to explore Cao’s interest in urban fashion outside of the streetwear brand he created 12 years ago. “We intentionally choose less trendy brands and brands with an urban bent,” explains Cao. “Shenzhen’s men’s clothing market is still small. It probably only accounts for 10 percent of the city’s multi-brand retail market, so general awareness is still low. But we are not in a hurry to grow “.

For Cao, taking time to grow means looking for brands that fit Banmen’s point of view at a mass-market price. “We want to find brands that our male audience base can easily understand. It’s more important than finding new brands, ”notes Cao. The brand mix includes Attempt, Corner Stone, Feng Chen Wang, And Wander and A-Cold-Wall.

Cao admits that Canadian menswear retailer Haven inspired Banmen to take a more editorial approach to its curating strategy. “In addition to providing space for clothes, we wanted to create more visual content to fill our customers’ headspace,” says Cao.

To help local audiences better understand Banmen’s history, Cao creates stylized lookbooks with Roaringwild’s in-house production team featuring the Banmen brands each season.

Banmen editorial content

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