Some Musings on Pawnstar

At fashion parties in Beijing or on terraces of art deco apartments in Shanghai, people often ask what became of Stylites. This site is still known as the first street style blog, mostly about hipsters in the Beijing hutongs. But I haven’t photographed the style tribes of China for a while, though friends and fashionistas say I should have continue. Maybe I got tired of it. Maybe the subject of China and style is too overhyped with the myriad local fashion designers, KOLs, and platforms that promote them. The freestanding blog also seems less viable in the age of mobile everything and social media: wechat and instagram trumped blogs like stylites. I didn’t come up with a way to truly capitalize on Stylites when it was most publicized around 2009. Now there’s no way to compete with the influence of the mega-KOLs such as Gogoboi, Leaf Greener, Peter Xu, etc., etc.

Stylites now contains a record of all the projects on which I’m working. And that’s exactly it. Here you can find information on the pop-ups that I’ve been doing at the Four Seasons Hotel Beijing – click on Stylites Projects to the right and this intro to the pop-up program from the Four Seasons site as well as their pinterest board – as well as what I’ve done for other clients like American Rag Cie and The HUB. The project that perhaps most excites me at the moment is something else though, something that I have found challenging to explain here.

Pawnstar is a project that I have been working on in China with my wife. For me, it’s about doing a business that relates to fashion but at the same addresses the frustration I get from being involved with fashion. What bothers me is the waste produced by the fashion industry and its numbing seasonal fashion cycle. Being surrounded by people who seem to revel in this addiction to change and newness feels very much at odds with my values. I needed to do something with a more eco or puritanical dimension to it. This has led me to move toward a business focused on secondhand, consignment and resale. This business is now called Pawnstar but it remains in the research and trial period.

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Kee Atelier with Yiwen Studio and Cerrito

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Stylites presents Kee Atelier at Shanghai’s famous Kee Club on Huaihai Road.  This three day pop-up event will bring some of the top designers from China and beyond to what may be the most beautiful private club in Asia, which is set in twin 1920s grand stone villas, which are practically a palace.

The first event this weekend will pair Shanghai and Beijing based Yiwen Studio with Cerrito, a collection of vintage new oldstock jewelry from Rhode Island.

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Zamani Collection x rechenberg

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This installation at the Four Seasons Hotel Beijing is particularly special for me because my father my father, Richard Frye, was a professor of Iranian history and I grew up surrounded by rugs at home.  When my mother, Eden Naby, and her family immigrated to the United States they sold their land in Iran and used the money to buy rugs, which they shipped their new home.  Some of these they sold, using the proceeds to purchase their first house in the Philadelphia.  Others of these rugs are still with my family today.

This heritage made me especially happy to work with Zamani Collection to put together the pop-up that will be at the hotel for the rest of this month and early February. Continue reading

In a Post-Bowie World

Anyone critical of all the hoopla over Bowie’s death should consider that 60s and 70s rockstars were quite similar to Greek gods in terms of their lifestyle and the cults of personality. Bowie was and will always be the maximum in terms of decadence, style, creativity, and freedom from norms. It’s not surprising that with the passing of the top deity, all of the believers are experiencing a bit of disbelief.

Here are my selections for his top songs:

Prettiest Star
Life on Mars

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Praise of Pop-up Program

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Above is the inside of Wuhao’s Curio Box at the Four Seasons Hotel Beijing.  The Pop-up program at the hotel has received a great deal of publicity and praise over the last year.

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The giant size of the lobby – something that I initially saw as a flaw in the hotel’s layout – has been turned into a great advantage that has made the hotel a focal point for the design and fashion crowds.  Major magazines agree.  More below.

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Dejue Pop-up

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Dejue, a super-high-end tailoring shop based in Beijing, also did a pop-up at the Four Seasons a while back.  Here are the photos.  They collaborated with Barker shoes from England.

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Above is an image of a rather monumental event that De Jue did a few weeks later, mostly related to overcoats, inside the Imperial Lounge and on its balcony.  Click below and scroll to the bottom for more images of this.

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Dutch Design II

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After the success of the first Dutch Design pop-up at the Four Seasons Hotel Beijing, they have returned once again.  Conceived of by shoe brand O’Quirey, the pop-up is once again staged in collaboration with Ubi Gallery and Studio Henny van Nistelrooy and will be hosted by the Four Seasons until November 29.

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Not only does the pop-up have a lot more bikes than last time – these are special edition that was made for O’Quirey’s China business – but the opening party was attended by their highnesses King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, who were staying in the hotel at the time.  Click below to see more photos.

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American Rag Party @ The HUB

1618640490  American Rag Party @ The HUB 1618640490 The HUB, Asia’s leading premium fashion trade fair, is coming to Shanghai for the first time next week (Oct. 13-15). American Rag will be hosting a party that is sure to be the best of Shanghai Fashion Week, which goes from . Most interestingly, my dear friend Gia Wang will be performing at this party. I first met Gia on Nanluoguxiang when I took a photo of her for Stylites. If you want to attend this party, please RSVP to brian@thehub.hk.

Brainwaves Defining Color

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DF photography Ltd., Model: Felzing Nadya
In a notable  example of tech meeting fashion, Hong Kong designer Markus Fung Qihao has developed a garment that projects human emotions onto the wearer’s body as colors through the use of 3D printing and BCI technology. By utilizing an EEG device, the wearer can digitalize brainwaves into different signals and converts them into an array of colors simultaneously as the wearer shifts through different environments.

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Woopin @ FSBJ

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For Beijing Design Week, we have arranged something truly special at the Four Seasons Hotel Beijing.  Beijing design cooperative Woopin, under husband and wife team Jia Li and Gao Yin, have put together a nature-focused installation that celebrates sustainable design as well as natural materials.

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There are over 20 designers, mostly local, featured in a modular pop-up that uses bamboo units that will be transferrable to future sites.  More details on this brilliant project in future posts, but click more to see more photos.

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Yo’hood

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For anyone who might be worried that the Chinese economy is slowing or that domestic consumption cannot being to take the place of exports or investment,  a visit to Yo’hood would be the perfect cure.  This was the third edition this massive event has the setup of the trade fair, but is really more consumer-oriented.   There may be no better venue  do you have a look at a wide swath of cool youth and all of the things that brands large and small are doing to attract their renminbi.

The organizing company, Yoho, started as a magazine focused on youth fashion and street fashion around ten years ago and was founded by Chao Liang, a native of Nanjing, who was just out of college at the time.   What has emerged in the last few years is a behemoth that is far more than just a media platform or a e-commerce site.  The Yoho  of today is a social and commercial phenomenon that is proving that street culture can become supremely popular for teens and 20 somethings in China today.

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When I was leaving at around 2 PM, there were already a few thousand people in a line that stretched several hundred meters,  but according to exhibitors I spoke to, the lines were even bigger on Saturday.   Some said they went for over a kilometer.  Even when I was there, on Sunday morning, the crowds of youth in trucker hats and cleverly logoed tee-shirts, tattooed beauties, freebies, pop concerts and pumping hip-hop, collaborations of every type conceivable between brand, street artist, and celebrity, and still tons and tons of neoprene everywhere nearly gave me a seizure and I had to leave before I probably should have.

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