Fine points of fashion
Updated: 2013-09-30 07:07
By Gan Tian (China Daily)
Lane Crawford provides customers a unique shopping experience and keeps them coming back. Gan Tian looks into the details.
Located in the southern area of Hong Kong Island surrounded by greenery, the luxury fashion retailer Lane Crawford's headquarters looks like a modern art gallery. The open office has excellent details: A small iron shelf is placed in the corner at the doorway for visitors to place umbrellas, wooden tables and chairs in European style are tastefully placed, and the white walls are decorated with giant fashion paintings. The whole ambience shouts luxury experience. As a luxury multi-brand department store, Lane Crawford is creating an extremely different experience for its consumers, says Andrew Keith, president of Lane Crawford & Joyce.
"It is a luxury department store model. What's new is that we don't rent out any space, so all of the merchandise is what we buy That enables us to have full control of all the brands we buy, enables us to create an amazing environment: how we express our store," Keith says.
The Hong Kong-based retail company, specialized in selling designer label luxury goods, has two stores in Beijing: Seasons Place store and Yintai Shopping Center store. It does not only provide items from well-known brands like Givenchy, Lanvin and Celine, but also chic and independent labels, including Sacai, J Crew, and Jason Wu.
Multi-brand fashion store, as it is called, is comparatively new to the Chinese mainland market.
In 2007 when Lane Crawford opened its first store in Beijing Seasons Place, it was one of the first of its kind. Some Chinese consumers asked: "Why should I buy a Givenchy shirt here instead of buying it from a Givenchy boutique?"
But now, after six years of establishment, 28-year-old Lane Crawford loyal consumer Wang Yong is a testimony of Lane Crawford's success. The fashion-savvy graphic designer pays a visit to Lane Crawford every month, parting with his money in exchange for alluring and exclusive fashionable items.
In August he bought a gray pair of handmade glasses from the US label Elizabeth and James.
"You can't find it anywhere in Beijing, or the whole of China," he brags to his friends.
His reasons for shopping at Lane Crawford include: First, he might find a Givenchy trench coat totally different from the one in the boutique; second, he can shop for items by Magnanni, Alexander Wang and Jason Wu, which cannot be found anywhere else in Beijing.
"Chinese customers are really excited to find new brands that are not seen everywhere. That's very good for our development, because the brands we work with are not brands widely distributed. They are not necessarily familiar," the president says.
Sarah Rutson, fashion director of Lane Crawford who is in charge of all the buying and physical visual effects of the store, says the department store has a team of passionate fashion buyers. They collect and pick creme de la creme from designers in New York, Milan, London and Paris.
She and her team are introducing more than 600 brands to fashionistas on the Chinese mainland, most of which are not mass marketed.
There are two Lane Crawford stores on the mainland, but it is "changing rapidly", Keith says.
Seeing that there are more sophisticated Chinese consumers like Wang, the company will open another store in Shanghai on Oct 23, and a fourth one in Chengdu, Sichuan province, early next year.
According to him, the new store in Shanghai will enhance the "exclusive experience" he has been stressing all the time.
A small detail can prove this. Traditional shopping malls are compartmentalized according to the product types, for example, men's wear, women's wear, or shoes. What Lane Crawford does in Shanghai, is to mix all the categories up, with professional stylists on hand to assist consumers.
This means that, when a man accompanies his wife for shopping, he does not have to get bored while waiting for her to finish trying on her selections. He can also find things that interest him such as leather wares, gadgets and alluring stationery.
The new Lane Crawford Shanghai store will feature the largest beauty section, including a hair salon, a nail bar, restaurants, a cafe, a bar and a flower shop.
Rutson says she has noticed a change in the behavior of Chinese consumers. Years ago, when she visited their Beijing store, most customers were seen looking at the price tag of each product before trying it on or deciding to buy it.
"But now, they gradually begin to know that they have to choose something suitable for themselves, their style, I should say," she says.
She indicates, with more Chinese consumers becoming sophisticated and treasuring "exclusiveness" in terms of fashion, there will be room for the multi-brand stores to flourish in the Chinese mainland market.
Contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Hong Kong-based luxury department store Lane Crawford has two stores in Beijing and will open another store in Shanghai. It provides items not only from well-known brands, but also chic and independent labels. Photos Provided to China Daily
(China Daily USA 09/30/2013 page10)