Photos by Teresa Yeh
Just count the details. Fashion designer Vega Zaishi Wang thoughtfully considers the tasteful little touches in all parts of her life including music, elixirs, and of course the cuts of the garments she creates. This 1930s radio, produced in Shanghai by a company called Panda, and the other decor in her first Jianwai Soho shop, just opening this week, are a testament to her quirky, distinctive style. The well-curated, compact space is comfortable and airy with high ceilings resulting from gutting of the second floor.
These items on display contrast but successfully mix East and West, befitting a Chinese designer that studied in London. Another harmonious clash appearing is between the antique knick-knacks populating the shop and the avant-garde fashion hanging on the racks. Perhaps the chic quaintness of these artifacts is an intentional foil aiming to show the progressiveness of the items on sale. Overall, the hand of the interior designer is obvious. Most shops in Beijing that use antiques get lost in clutter and dowdiness.
Yet another contrast is between the cutting-edge design of the clothes and the traditionalism of their construction method. The silk threads from Da Hongmen serve as a reminder that Vega is offering clothes handmade on the premises. I haven’t encountered another young designer in Beijing whose space combines storefront and workshop. This is the sort of “authentic” business that magazines like Monocle adore and that we see far too little of here in Beijing.
When we think of fashion from China it is mass-produced, not customized, and derivative in design. The few fashion items that one can have custom-made are generally more standard things like suits and shirts. Of course, given the amount of skilled labor and its low cost, one always wonders why all fashion cannot be custom here.
It turns out that not just the clothes are made to measure. The hanging racks were custom-made for the shop using iron and wood purchased in antique markets.
Vega is a bit gross or maybe she is just super-trendy. Over the last couple years, bugs have been almost a common a pattern as skulls. I can only think of the Liberty shirts and ties I have craved that have mosquito or beetle prints. These bugs, frozen in action, were purchased on Taobao and are among Vega’s favorite decorations in the shop. Not only pparently, butterflies are on the way. she has some sort of bizarre plan to raise a lizard in a frame and hanging it up exploring the idea
In the front display window hang the patterns from which garments are cut. Each bespoke garment requires a new a new pattern to be cut for the specific client.
Vega’s cat, which lives in the shop, is named Doudou. Interestingly, my girlfriend have a Siamese cat named Doudou as well. Hers is still male, ours is the chief palace eunuch.
These she got just because they are cool. However, there will be more accessories in the future – hats, belts, scarves, etc. More posts to come from the first party at the shop.
Here is the address:
Jianwai Soho Building 6, basement 662. It is on B1, opposite the Tony Lee Studio.