Chinese-American fashion designer, Alexander Wang, arrived on the scene with a bang. Last February, he opened his first store on Grand Street in New York. While more cautious designers might focus on progressing their brand in London and Paris, Wang is going back to his roots. By the end of the year, the designer will have 15 of his own stores, all but one in Asia.
With Wang’s ready-to-wear, which is divided into three spheres — Collection, Core and T — as hot as can be, and his accessories expanding rapidly, retail development is now a major focus of the brand. In a recent conversation, the designer and company president Rodrigo Bazan outlined the strategy.
After opening in New York, Wang and his team immediately began thinking of their second property, but they knew it wouldn’t be in the U.S. While the brands largest international markets are London and Tokyo, Wang arrived at an epiphany. “Then I was like, ‘You know what? It should be China. I’m Chinese; it makes sense,” Wang added.
Wang grew up in the U.S., but spent much of his childhood in Shanghai. Over the years he’s traveled regularly to Shanghai, first to see his mother, and later, also for the business. “My mom was the first to tell me, 10, 15 years ago: ‘China, one day, is going to be the next fashion capital,’” he recalls. “At that time, I was like, ‘Mom, you’re just trying to get me to move here with you!’ But then, I saw the progression.”
Shanghai was destined to be the location of Wang’s second flagship, until he paid a visit to Beijing. “Everything was going on in Beijing, whether it was in music or culinary or entertainment. We happened to be there together with Rodrigo and we saw this one location and it was open,” Wang said.
The hotspot was none other than Sanlitun Village, in the city’s Chaoyang District. Designed as a village of freestanding shops and restaurants with street access, Sanlitun Village boasted alenciaga, Moncler, Versace, McQueen, Margiela, Lanvin, Marni, Balmain and I.T Beijing Market. “We were really impressed,” Bazan says. “I think it’s [more interesting] than anything else happening in retail projects, even in Western Europe and the U.S. This beautiful piece of land creating freestanding stores in 15,000-square-foot blocks — it’s perfect.”
Architect Joseph Dirand designed the space as if it were a sculpture project. The design includes a marble staircase between one bronze and one mirrored wall. While asphalt flooring contrasts with the high-luster surfaces everywhere else.
The 4,000-square-foot store will house the full range of Wang products, including the women’s and men’s collections, T, Core, accessories and some site-specific items. It’s projected as being quite different — and more imposing — than the New York store. “I never want store clones,” Wang says. “I like it when you go to different stores and have a slightly different experience. The fur hammock is something iconic to our New York store, and I don’t want to replicate it in every store; it shouldn’t be a commodity.”
The Beijing flagship is on target to open next month with a major event in April, attended by Wang.
photo credit: alexander wang