Shan Yan Siu’s first great opportunity in life, he says, was the chance to go to America to raise his family and create a fashion brand. Second on the list is expanding that brand to China. “Even ten years ago I would’ve been surprised to know that we would now have a store in China. China is moving so fast,” Siu said.
Last April his New York-based brand, Lafayette 148, moved to the City Plaza mall in Shanghai’s downtown Jing An district. Now, he is scouting around for a Beijing location, and his son Kinsen Siu thinks he can market the brand successfully to Chinese fashionistas.
Of his brand’s target customer, Kinsen Siu said, “She’s going to be in her early- to mid-30s and quite successful in her career. She needs to look good and look professional whether she is going into the office or, quite frequently, to networking events. There’s this mixture of professional life and desire for comfort as she transitions from office to work dinner to home throughout her entire week. She’s the confident woman who is at the point where she’s saying, ‘I’m beyond the labels, I have my own sense of style, I want to try things that I like and I’m comfortable with.'”
Deidre Quinn, Lafayette 148’s other co-founder, insists the brand will retain its American roots despite new marketing tactics. “We definitely plan to be perceived as an international brand, we are definitely a New York-designed brand and we brought it here as a New York City brand, which is who we are, that focus, that’s who Lafayette is, that’s our story.
Ten years ago, the brand moved its manufacturing to Shantou, Shun Yan Siu’s ancestral home. Lafayette 148 knitwear goes for about $500 in China, dresses retail for $1,500, and coats can cost upwards of $4,500. About 85 percent of merchandise mix in the Lafayette 148 Shanghai store come from the brand’s regular collections and the remaining 15 percent consists of pieces created especially for the Chinese market.
photo credit: galeries lafayette 148