Shanghai – During Shanghai Fashion Week, three local fashion multi-brand designer shops opened their doors in downtown Shanghai, all with big plans to cater to the fashion-conscious community in China’s fashion capital.
All three local players – XC273, Looknow Aflow and R130, along with UK Machine-A – boast different retail concepts and business propositions.
XC273, which had a soft opening a year ago, has officially launched its spacious store and event space dedicated to SND, Chongqing’s finest multi-brand retailer.
Looknow Aflow, the capital-backed multi-brand chain of stores, menswear and collectibles, is entering streetwear with an arm.
R130, an incubator project backed by Chinese clothing company Ribo Fashion Group, is taking on high fashion with a focus on Antwerp designer brands.
Post-lockdown, the appetite for new retail experiences is palpable.
“We understand that consumers are gradually moving away from the traditional mall retail experience and we are all participating in this movement,” said Ming Yan, founder and CEO of Lucknow.
Ying Zhang, founder of XC273, said: “For the new generation of multi-product stores, their advantage is to target Gen Z consumers.
“A curbside shop with character and personality will always be a draw for curious onlookers,” says Yvonne Shi, founder of R130. “It will always be a good market, but if we do it well, we will attract the right people.”
As the market finds new interest in niche brands and local designer labels come of age, these multi-brand retailers have emerged at the same time as seeking a new crop of fashion lovers and building relationships with the brands they carry.
Case in point: The label partnered with local designer Shushu/Tong to open a store at the recently opened JC Plaza mall, while Lucknow hosted a long run of pop-up stores for Ghani before the brand’s official launch in China. .
According to the McKinsey 2022 Fashion Industry White Paper released at Shanghai Fashion Week, “Niche is moving to the high street.
“Shopper shops will become an influential platform to reach specific customers, support independent brand marketing, support sales operations and commercial real estate negotiations, creating additional opportunities for independent brands,” the report said.
XC273, a sprawling 14,000-square-foot, three-story store, is one of the largest retail projects in Shanghai’s recent multi-brand retail history. XC273 is backed by textile manufacturer Chenfeng Group, which has helped finance local brands such as Comme Moi and Chen Peng.
Equipped with a theatrical ice blue water pond in the center of the space, the shop quickly became popular on Chinese social media.
XC273 has celebrated local designers Yue Qiqi, Penultimate and Untitlab with various events and projects and launched an art exhibition with neighboring gallery Fibre.
Located in a former government towel factory, XC273 is tucked away at one end of a newly established mixed-use retail project. But fashionistas will have no problem finding the space as it is formerly the Not Showroom, also owned by XC273’s parent company XCommons, and hosted the first fashion show of Windows.
“We know that people want experimental brands, but we also know that they want more wearable clothes for less experienced people,” said Zhang of XC273 fashion department store. The store decided to work with SND to achieve that goal, with the second floor dedicated to SND’s select brands.
“I was first attracted to the XC273 because of its sense of history in space,” said Will Zhang, founder of SND. But most importantly, we decided to work together to focus on bringing new and exciting brands to our customers.
The store’s first floor will highlight mostly emerging menswear brands such as Kiko Kostadinov, EgonLab and Kusikohc, while the third floor will focus on artist goods and lifestyle items.
Using XC273 as a testing ground, the store will host shop-in-shops to support brands ranging from “Not Showroom” brands such as 8on8 and Samuel Guì Yang. She hopes XC273 will serve as a testing ground for local brands before paving the way for expansion into monobrand stores.
“There is a tricky segment in the Chinese market,” Ying Zhang said. “Multibrand stores want to support products like how Timal works by selling a lot of popular products, but because many stores keep the inventory depth on these brands, people can’t see a good picture of the brand. History.
“So we want to go deeper with the individual brands, our ultimate goal is to make the brands stronger. This makes the store more attractive,” she added.
Founded by serial entrepreneur and former media company executive Ming Yan, Looknow started as an e-commerce retailer and moved into brick-and-mortar in 2019. In 2018, it completed a $22 million Series-A round of funding led by GGV Capital.
Looknow Aflow is the 14th door of the franchise on the famous Anfu Road in Shanghai, China.
“We want to break away from the feeling of being a women’s clothing store. We want the identity of Lucknow to flow, that’s why we called it Aflow, and it also relates to Anfu Road.” “We’ve identified a retail lifestyle in Shanghai called ‘new urbanism.’ It’s more unisex, hip, streetwear-driven, but not literally.”
The two-story curbside shop currently features an outdoor cafe, while the spacious amphitheater first floor is covered in colorful carpeted walls and filled with Chinese plants and artwork. It also includes a graffiti bathtub painted by Yan’s 5-year-old son. The second floor is currently hosting pop-up local ceramics brand Xixingle.
The store carries popular brands such as We11done, Sunnei and Helmut Lang.
“We realized that young professionals don’t want to be known for their work. They want to outwardly express their lifestyle and hobbies, such as team street biking, skating, and playing Frisbee,” Yan explained.
For that, it is important to tap interest groups to manage customer relationships. “Just chatting with our customers on WeChat is not enough,” Yan said. “The multibrand retail experience should be about having fun with customers, and that’s how it captures the consumer’s limited attention span.”
Later this year, Looknow will launch at the Parkside retail outlet across the street from IAPM, Shanghai’s iconic luxury mall. The VC-backed retailer hopes to secure its next round of funding next year.
Backed by Ribo Fashion Group, a Shanghai-based apparel company, R130 bought a 5,380-square-foot, four-story building in downtown Shanghai, adjacent to the men’s store of Label Hood.
The retailer spent more than a year designing and renovating the building. The result was a tower-like structure fully equipped with an elevator.
R130 is managed by Yvonne Shi, an art veteran who plans to bring more avant-garde Antwerp brands to the Shanghai market.
For the first two weeks, the open space is being devoted to an exhibition by recent graduates of the Royal Academy of Arts Antwerp, including Dee Dou, Senson Li, Victor Wang, Georgia Galfrey, Igor Direrich, Jasmin Bandomer and Mark Pengel.
“I think that these designers, who I prefer to call artists, not only make great clothes, but at the same time have the ability to discuss social issues through their designs,” Shi said.
The first floor of R130 is dedicated to “simple basics” by brands such as Maison Margiela and Craig Green, which is at Chengdu designer boutique Clapp. The second floor is dedicated to emerging designers like Botter and Y-Project. The third floor houses famous avant-garde brands such as Ann Demeulemeester and Rick Owens, while the fourth floor is a fashion gallery created by Coffey, a local fashion archive and research center.
According to Shi, the fact that these brands are established in the Shanghai market will help R130 differentiate how the store buys them. “I spent some time looking at how the natural light hits each wardrobe at different times of the day, so how the clothes are presented, how the different brands interact with each other,” Shi said.
All we want is laser-focused on heavy fashion, especially post-lock. Our mindset is changing, it’s enough to do something right,” Shi said.
In the future, R130 is in talks with Dover Street Little Market to launch a pop-up store at R130.
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