Photos and Text：Suzy
I know there has been quite a lot here about Burberry, but it was the biggest event in the brand’s longish history and we had two people from Stylites taking photos. The FT has a nice sum-up. Burberry brought Keane, Prada brought the Petshop Boys a couple months ago. Next, I hope some fashion brand will fly David Bowie out. He is rather more important for fashion.
Anyway, let’s see who wasn’t wearing Burberry. Above is GQ Fashion Editor Fashion Editor Dan Cui a high-collared shirt and a dotted Dior Homme jacket.
Photographer Sunny chose a “replica” Hermès scarf. Her main purpose in coming to the event was seeing her favourite singer, Hong Kong star Eason Chan. I wasn’t able to determine how many replicas of Burberry items there were at the event.
Many people were wearing the latest threads from Burberry. The Vogue EIC Angelica Cheung was wearing the exact same coat that night.
Many items seemed to be from the now available Spring 2011 collection, the theme of which was “heritage biker”. For this collection, designer Christopher Bailey was inspired by biker gear created by Thomas Burberry in the early 1900s. We will try to find out how many of these items are purchased at the full Mainland price. For the time being, have a look at this piece our friends at JingDaily have on the price discrepancy between the Mainland and abroad.
Still quite a few more photos from the Burberry event…don’t know that I have ever seen a face that chiseled in China, but he keeps it real with bowl-cut.
It wasn’t just the usual fashion people: there were hipsters too. The grand event celebrating the opening of Burberry’s new flagship was at a venue not frequently used for fashion parties, Beijing Television Centre. Featured was the British band Keane, performing for the first time in China. Jing Daily has more analysis on the digital component of the event. You can see the video from the event just below. This was the first time that Stylites featured live live streaming of an event. Here are Yitrends creator Alice McInerney and Polish radio Tomasz Sajewicz.
Sunny is an entrepreneur and general international man of mystery who makes all the fashion parties.
Spring has arrived and so have the British: Today, Burberry’s Chief Creative Officer Christopher Bailey will inaugurate one of the brand’s most technically advanced flagship stores at Sparkle Roll Plaza and promises to celebrate British Music, Technology and fashion globally from Beijing.
春天带来了英国的时尚之风：今天，Burberry首席创意总监克里斯托弗 贝利 (Christopher Bailey)将在Sparkle Roll Plaza主持Burberry品牌有史以来最先进的旗舰店的开幕式，这次在北京的活动将融合英国音乐、高科技和时尚等元素。
Beijing brit-rock band Super VC is a fan of Burberry and enthusiastically welcomes the new store. Burberry Creative Director Christopher Bailey came to Beijing for a single day to attend the opening and I gave him a Stylites pocket square, which he found a bit surprising. In the Jinbao Place Shopping Mall, also home to Gucci, Buttega Veneta, Vertu, and the Swank, mentioned in the post before, this new outlet on Jinbao Street is Burberry’s sixth and largest store in Beijing. Someone evidently has a plan to make Jinbao street into Beijing’s answer to Madison Avenue or Via Spiaggia. Jinbao street also has the Peninsula hotel, and its shopping mall, the Beijing Hong Kong Jockey Club Clubhouse, dealers for Maserati, Ferarri, and Bugatti, as well as the subtly designed Legendale hotel, which could have been the brain-child of Harrod’s owner Mohamed al-Fayed.
On both sides of the roped-off entry to the shop were standing some spectators from the neighboring hutong. As it turns out, the lady in red crocs worked as a seamstress until retiring in her forties. She doesn’t expect to ever enter the Burberry shop, despite its proximity to her home, but maybe she could get a helping with alterations? I wonder what she thinks of the Legendale.
Export Manager Mr. Edoardo Simone of Brunello Cucinelli was in Beijing to attend the opening ceremony of Hong Kong’s The Swank, the first retail outlet in the mainland that will be carrying his brand. The Swank opened its first outlet last Friday with a celebration (covered by luxury insider) at the Beijing Hong Kong Jockey Club Clubhouse.
Brands on offer include Isaia, Balmain, Dormeuil, Andrew GN, to name a few. This is, in a sense, only the second major multi-brand high-end retailer to land in Beijing with the first being Lane Crawford, also from Hong Kong. The norm here is free-standing boutiques in large malls, of which there are an ever-growing number. This limits the market to those companies that have the size to finance a major commitment in the form of staff, rent, etc.
This has a couple of effects, which I regard as largely negative. Mainland customers have been up to their ears in Prada, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Gucci, Armani, D&G, Hugo Boss, and other brands that are either part of major fashion groups or, in any case, heavily reliant on marketing. When a good portion of a company’s revenue flows into advertisements and public relations, one cannot be blamed for wondering how much is left for creating high-quality luxury goods.
Whereas Lane Crawford offers many fashion-forward and avant-garde brands, the Swank brings to Beijing relatively smaller Italian companies, like Brunello Cucinelli and Isaia, that invest in the best fabric, craftsmanship, and good working conditions. These cater to a somewhat more mature audience, from around 35 to 55. It will be very interesting to see how these brands perform in China. They are only recognized by a few and do not rely on heavy branding, glossy models, and appeal to the fashion crowd. Judging by the shawl-lapel suit worn by Mr. Simone, the garments do have some style.
Daniel Sui is a designer for Kappa in China and he appeared on Stylites before. The IHT had an interesting story on the public offering of Dongxiang, which owns the exclusive license for the Kappa brand in China. As the existence of Daniel’s job proves, this Italian sportswear brand is not only produced and sold in China, but also designed here. The article speaks of over 20% annual growth of the Chinese sportswear market.
The funny thing is that I have the exact same herringbone trench coat and I was wearing it that same day. Daniel also wore it for his photo shoot with 1626 (1626 also did a shoot and interview with me that should be appearing over the next couple of weeks):
The coat is intended for export to Japan and is by some obscure brand. The cut is really slim and the styling is quite nice. I think the coat looks good and that’s why I bought it despite some misgivings. The price of around USD 50 also didn’t dissuade me. Unfortunately, truths like “you always get what you pay for” do seem eternal. This coat has the same key defect as many stylish pieces made in China for export to Japan as well as stylish fakes of brands like Dior Homme and Burberry Prorsum. That defect is poor quality materials. The fabric, buttons, thread, and lining are all sub-par. Even H&M and Zara offer substantially better quality. The fabric began to pill after a few wearings and the buttons are about to fall off en masse. Anyway, all I can say is that it is worth using Senli and Frye to get a durable piece that will last through the years. That said, sometimes one does want throw-away fashion – this certainly doesn’t seem very ecologically friendly though.
Finally my pictures from the Lane Crawford opening party can appear on stylites.net, since they have now already appeared in the December issue of Thats Beijing. Please get your own copy, to see these photos in print. The original goal for this edition of Stylites in Beijing, in That’s Beijing, was to focus on the whole Financial Street area in Western Beijing. However, I found on numerous trips to the area that there was very little interesting style in the region beyond the night of the Lane Crawford opening party. Even in Seasons Place Shopping Mall, where Lane Crawford is located, on a normal day, there is no one that I want to photograph. In fact, there are very few people, owing to the location and the high prices of the stores in the mall. Perhaps this simply highlights the exclusivity of the shopping complex. I guess the name Financial Street says it all. Ibankers can certainly be stylish in a traditional way, though they tend not to chase the latest trends, but even that Saville Row set of style sensibilities has not reached Beijing. However, the international fashion elite welcoming Lane Crawford to Beijing showed an intimate knowledge of the looks and pieces that are hot now, and a talent for mixing, matching, and innovating on them creatively.
Bernie describes Beijing as “culturally rich” with consumers “ready for anything”. His attitude and look both seem “ready for anything” with this singular cotton waistcoat that blends British tradition with the de-rigeur black of the fashion elite. Based in Hong Kong, Bernie is a buyer for Lane Crawford.
Did anyone ever say Chinese women don’t have long legs. Even with this pair, the leg warmers seem to add rather than subtract from height. Fangfang is a fashion designer who owns her own shop; the coat is her own creation.
Junior buyer Jimmy says menswear at Lane Crawford will rely on key brands like Zegna and Armani, while educating on new brands with a more “romantic” spirit. His Burberry Prorsum wool/cashmere coat with braided epaulettes (RMB 27,350) encapsulates that spirit and the size 48 hanging in the store happens to be a perfect fit for me. Instead I picked up a similar, but inferior because it lacked the braided epaulettes and Italian fabric, piece in 3.3 for RMB 550.
Prepared to go acquiring, some men at the opening party of Lane Crawford are looking cool.
They could feel confident that Lane Crawford selected the best pieces from each of the labels on offer. Rick Owens, Burberry Prorsum, Viktor and Rolf, Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, Neil Barrett, and Alexander Mcqueen are in Beijing for the first time. The new Dior Homme shop opposite confirms that Beijing is no longer a men’s fashion backwater.
Here are Beijing’s best shoes. Check N.D.C Made by Hand brogues (4,100). Lane Crawford is China’s only distributor of these and the Spanish Preventi (around 2,500). Church’s (5,800-6,800), bench-made in the UK, are among the earth’s best shoes, though boring Zegnas are still the top sellers at Lane Crawford. Uh, not to mention the John Lobbs (14,000+).
The tie, shirt, and scarf selection was acceptable, but for lovelier choices, check Allen in Oriental Plaza. More pocket squares would be nice. Standouts were Burberry Prorsum slim ties (1,895) and Viktor and Rolf star print ties (1,000). Choices in attractive corporate-friendly ties lagged; brands missing include Hilditch and Key, Charvet, and Massimo Bizzochi. The Italy-made store brand shirts (1,400) suffice, but Turnbull and Asser or Borrelli would outclass. Skip Vivienne Westwood scarves – the orb is old – but indulge in an over-dyed Raf Simons “split ends” scarf (3300).
Officewear is Dunhill, Zegna, Pal Zileri, and Armani, familiar brands that will sate nearby ibankers and private equity thugs, and generate steady cash flow. The well-edited collections save trips to their boutiques, but truly exclusive brands like Barbera, Isaia, or Belvest might be nice. Choose Pal Zileri for its superior construction – a one button, peak lapel, s120 navy pinstriped suit (18,300) needs you. Non-sale prices include alterations. Skip the Paul Smith suits, but try out his beige, velvet-collared, crombie (13,700).
For divine experiences, blending high fashion with great tailoring, go for the silk/wool Alexander Mcqueen suit (26,700), which makes shimmering look good and will doubtless adorn a popstar, and the black Burberry Prorsum wool/cashmere coat with braided epaulettes (27,350) that seemed custom-made for me. Or you could get personalized replicas custom-made by a tailor here in Beijing.
Burberry Prorsum, YSL Rive Gauche, Dries Van Noten, Viktor and Rolf – boyz you can finally get their latest pieces right here in Beijing! For the more conservative types, there is a better selection of Pal Zileri, Armani, and Zegna than is even available in their rather patronizingly edited boutiques.
Ample champagne, beautiful clothes, and more stylish people than I have ever seen in one place – the Lane Crawford opening party was great fun and the pictures I will add over the next week will highlight this. Stay tuned for my review of the new store in the next That’s Beijing.
Before that, let me proclaim: the arrival of this store here is a revolution. Beijing at last hosts a well-curated treasury of global fashion’s top designs. China’s cultural center deserved a fashion emporium that matched its artistic spirit. It is here. Other retailers and many retail consultants underestimated the maturity of the market, thinking that designers could get away with offering a selection combining re-runs of old seasons, loud branded dross, and a whole load of Hugo Boss and Dunhill. The Beijing fashion consumer is more sophisticated than that, as Lane Crawford astutely realized. Should I be their chief of PR?
The men’s selection maximizes time and taste, two values essential to the global cognitive elite. Men can now find the most stylish pieces pieces on offer in the city on just two floors. It is better than anything in any of the single-brand boutiques or department stores here before.
Lane Crawford fills a gap and the nouveaus with the cash to shop there and not enough time to find a good tailor will have a big advantage. The problem in Beijing is that if you want off-the-rack apparel that combines quality with style, you can only turn to the expensive stuff or a tailor. There is no decent high-street, no consignment shops, and no discount shops like Filene’s Basement.
Much more on this to come.