Fash­ion 911

China Daily (USA) - - SHANGHAI THE BUND - By XU JUNQIAN in Shang­hai xu­jun­qian@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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.”

co-founder of Xin­lelu.com

Wu Yilei, 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”.

PHO­TOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Xin­lelu.com is one of the few places that of­fers late night shop­ping in Shang­hai.

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