Buyer’s stores are the new trend in fash­ion-savvy Shang­hai, and they in­di­cate that per­haps all is not lost for phys­i­cal cloth­ing stores

China Daily (USA) - - SHANGHAI - ByXUJUNQIAN in Shang­hai xu­jun­qian@chi­

While the im­mi­nent clo­sure of the iconic Pa­cific Depart­ment Store along Shang­hai’s Huai­hai Mid­dle Road has seem­ingly sounded the death knell for tra­di­tional brick and mor­tar re­tail­ers, the MODE show­room lo­cated a few blocks away painted a rather dif­fer­ent pic­ture.

As the of­fi­cial trade show of Shang­hai Fash­ion Week (SFW), MODE this year fea­tured a sprawl­ing ex­hi­bi­tion area of around 10,000 square me­ters that was oc­cu­pied by 500 brands and de­sign­ers show­cas­ing their cre­ations to some 8,000 vis­i­tors over four days.

“The de­cline of tra­di­tional depart­ment stores do not mean that peo­ple have stopped buy­ing or are buy­ing less. Rather, it is a case of con­sumers to­day chang­ing how and where they buy,” said Ye Qizheng, chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer of DFO, one of China’s ear­li­est buyer’s stores.

Buyer’s stores are dif­fer­ent from tra­di­tional re­tail stores in the sense that the fash­ion col­lec­tions within are cu­rated by the store own­ers based on their pre­dic­tions of what con­sumers will be in­ter­ested in.

Ac­cord­ing to the or­ga­niz­ers of MODE, up to 50 per­cent of its vis­i­tors this year were pro­fes­sional buy­ers and own­ers of buyer’s stores, an in­crease of 27 per­cent from last year.

He Lan, the mar­ket­ing man­ager of the Tu­doo Show­room in Guangzhou, Guang­dong prov­ince, said that now is the best time for buy­ers to be stock­ing their showrooms as con­sumers in China have now up­graded their con­sump­tion habits by valu­ing qual­ity and unique­ness in­stead of quan­tity and big name lux­ury la­bels. Ye Qizheng,

“Young and old, peo­ple to­day are all look­ing for some­thing unique that is an ex­ten­sion of one’s per­son­al­ity and style. In the con­text of fash­ion, this means that peo­ple pre­fer to get clothes by in­di­vid­ual de­sign­ers and chic buyer’s stores,” said He.

A report by Fash­ion Trend Digest showed that there are cur­rently more than 900 buyer’s stores across the coun­try. Those based in Shang­hai and Bei­jing ac­count for 38.7 per­cent of the na­tional to­tal, mean­ing that there is room for more growth in sec­ond- and third-tier cities.

In or­der to cater to the grow­ing de­mands for such prod­ucts, sev­eral well-es­tab­lished Chi­nese de­sign­ers have re­sorted to rent­ing show­room spa­ces to bet­ter serve their dis­cern­ing cus­tomers.

“I have yet to open a store in China but a show­room is some­thing I want to have and could af­ford. It’s a good way to boost brand recog­ni­tion and sales,” said Wang Fencheng, a NewYork-based Chi­nese de­signer who turned the sec­ond storey of a his­tor­i­cal villa house in Shang­hai into her tem­po­rary of­fice and show­room dur­ing this year’s SFW.

“This buyer’s cul­ture has only been around since af­ter 2010 but there is al­ready ex­plo­sive growth and I be­lieve the in­dus­try will still be huge in the years to come,” said Liu Yongyan, co-founder of Match Show­room in Shang­hai.

Liu was for­merly the owner of a buyer’s store but de­cided to give it up and be­come a sup­plier to such stores in­stead be­cause the mar­ket was sat­u­rated with such busi­nesses. She to­day rep­re­sents a dozen of in­de­pen­dent Nordic and Euro­pean de­sign­ers and tries to “match”, as her show­room name sug­gests, them with Chi­nese buyer’s stores that share a sim­i­lar taste.

Liu added that the re­open­ing of Lane Craw­ford in Shang­hai in 2013 and the in­tro­duc­tion of Mode Show­room in 2015 were ma­jor break­throughs for the bustling buyer’s store sec­tor in China, and that this hive of ac­tiv­ity has now caught the eyes of the big play­ers.

For in­stance, Shang­hai’s home­grown re­tail con­glom­er­ate, Bail­ian Group, re­cently an­nounced its plan to re­form a 500-square-me­ter space at one of its out­lets into a self-run buyer’s store.

“Con­sid­er­ing the huge in­flu­ence of Bail­ian — half of the stores on Nan­jing Road are owned and run by it — the re­tail in­dus­try in Shang­hai, if not China, could be rad­i­cally changed if it is in­deed de­ter­mined to achieve this kind of a trans­for­ma­tion,” said Lyu Xiaolei, deputy sec­re­tary-gen­eral of SFW.

“The ben­e­fits of such a move by Bail­ian could be mu­tual. For the stores, they are in­jected with young and fresh ideas that may even­tu­ally be trans­lated into real sales. For the de­sign­ers, hav­ing their pieces shown and sold at some of the most prime lo­ca­tions in Shang­hai could be of great help,” she added.

Peo­ple have not stopped buy­ing or are buy­ing less. Rather, it is a case of con­sumers to­day chang­ing how and where they buy.”

chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer of DFO, one of China’s ear­li­est buyer’s stores


Mod­els show­case the works of Chi­nese fash­ion de­sign­ers on the run­way dur­ing Shang­hai Fash­ion Week.


JUN by YO This year’s Shang­hai Fash­ion Week brought to­gether 500 brands and de­sign­ers who show­cased their of­fer­ings in 10,000 sqm of ex­hi­bi­tion space.

Shu Shu Tong

Xu Zhi

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