Do people actually shop for clothes in the dead of night at say, 2 am?
Wu Yilei, who has built a reputation for being a fashion paramedic who can respond to wardrobe emergencies in the wee hours of the morning, certainly knows of many who do so.
Today, when the city’s most welldressed and well-off women find themselves without a dress after receiving an unexpected invitation to a function the next day, they turn to Wu, who runs clothing boutique Xinlelu.com.
In 2011, Wu co-founded the company with a British-born-Chinese friend who is also an independent local-based fashion designer. The business has an e-commerce site and a brick-and-mortar store, and the duo works with some 50 local and international fashion designers to stock their shelves with trendy daily wear, evening dresses, accessories and bags.
Before the introduction of her late night wardrobe services, the store, like thousands of other independent boutiques in the city, only operated from 12 pm to 8 pm. The idea to start such a service was born while she was jogging, said Wu, who once studied at London Fashion College.
Having realized that she was often “harassed” in the middle of night by her close friends and regular customers about fashion problems, Wu thought that having such a service could prove popular.
“They were all asking me if I have this or that in my shop that they could wear the next day. There is a Chinese saying that the dress every woman wants to wear the next day is always found anywhere other than in her own wardrobe,” laughed Wu, who added that she has never had to work past 3 am before.
Customers need to make an appointment via phone or through the store’s WeChat account two to three hours prior to turning up at the boutique. During this time, Wu and her shop assistants, all of whom come from fashion design backgrounds, go through their stock and get everything prepared.
“In a busy city like Shanghai, where people get off work at 8 pm and finish their dinner at 9 or 10 pm (most of the department stores in Shanghai close at 10 pm), the need for a place that offers latenight shopping is a very urgent one. In fact, it might even be more urgent that buying a house,” joked the 32-year-old.
“I may not be the first person to have the idea of providing late night wardrobe solutions, but the small size of our team and store makes everything more flexible and possible,” she added.
Following the completion of her studies in London, the fashion marketing major worked in international fast fashion retail companies as well as at luxury
I don’t want to redefine the style of the second generation of the rich, or the wives of the rich, or the mistresses of the rich. I want to redefine the sense of style of the hundreds of thousands of office workers in the city.”
brands. Wu is also the owner of women’s clothing brand 1/2 Eternity which focuses exclusively on white shirts, something she said is “as important as a little black dress but greatly overlooked”.
Wu also hopes to fulfill her vision of discovering new designers and redefining the personal style in Shanghai through her fashion boutique.
“I don’t want to redefine the style of the second generation of the rich, or the wives of the rich, or the mistresses of the rich. I want to redefine the sense of style of the hundreds of thousands of office workers in the city,” said Wu.
“These people make and spend their own money. They don’t care what celebrities wear or which piece of clothing features the latest fashion element. They know what looks good on them for certain occasions,” described Wu of her clientele.
As such, most of the offerings at her store are neither overly edgy nor sexy, but the kind she said “makes you look appear normal, yet elegant and stunning”.
Xinlelu.com is one of the few places that offers late night shopping in Shanghai.