By  on May 21, 2007

SHANGHAI — Joyce's first Mainland China boutique opened with much glitz and fanfare here last month.

"Our ‘2 days|2 cities|2 splendors' Hong Kong and Shanghai openings and event went extremely well and we couldn't have asked for a better result," said Adrienne Ma, company director and daughter of founder Joyce Ma, referring to the Shanghai opening as well as that of the larger Joyce Central store in Hong Kong. "We received great support from numerous vendors — 13 brands joined us in the Hong Kong opening and 23 brands in Shanghai."

The opening also represents a salvo for multibrand stores, in a market where the monobrand concept dominates.

The new, 8,000-square-foot store on the second floor of Plaza 66 on Nanjing Lu opened with a ceremony attended by celebrities including Chinese actress Zhou Xun and designer Yohji Yamamoto and his mother, Fumi Yamamoto. A dinner the previous night at Vista at Bund Six and the show and party at the Shanghai MoCA that evening also were attended by Ann Demeulemeester, Nancy Gonzalez, John Rocha, Vidi Vichi founder Kyung Min Lee, a bevy of Hong Kong socialites, and senior management from Yohji Yamamoto, Jil Sander, Marni, Balenciaga, John Galliano, Dries Van Noten, Oscar de la Renta, Ann Demeulemeester, Neil Barrett, Nancy Gonzalez, Brunello Cucinelli, Number Nine, Undercover and Linda Farrow.

The MoCA fashion show and party, titled "Joyce Salutes to Fashion and Art," featured 80 outfits from the designer brands Joyce represents in China, including Anna Sui, Ann Demeulemeester, Balenciaga, Comme des Garçons, Fendi, Jil Sander, John Galliano and Oscar de la Renta, displayed on a catwalk created on the museum's ground floor. Interspersed about the setting, and exhibited on the second floor, was a selection of works by some of the leading names in Chinese contemporary art, including Ji Wenyu, Yang Fudong, Xue Song, Ding Yi, Zhou Tiehai, Zeng Fangzhi and Pu Jie.

While this marks Joyce's first multibrand boutique on the mainland, the company entered the market in late 2002 under its subsidiary, Joyce Distribution Limited, which now serves as a distributor for 11 monobrand stores for Versace, Versus and Etro. Last year brought a surge of Shanghai activity for the company: In April, it opened the first Jil Sander flagship at Plaza 66; in October, it launched Pleats Please Issey Miyake at Times Square, and in December, it unveiled Anna Sui at Plaza 66. Joyce also established a Shanghai office last year. Last month, it opened stores for Etro and three other brands in Mitsukoshi Shin Kong Place in Beijing."Simultaneously, on April 19, when we unveiled our newly expanded Joyce Central store in Hong Kong, we opened four more monobrand shops in Mitsukoshi Beijing," detailed Adrienne Ma. "We will be opening a few more monobrand shops within the year, namely a flagship for Etro on the ground floor of Westgate Shopping Mall in Shanghai, and a See by Chloé and an Anna Sui in Chengdu. A few others are in the pipeline."

Multibrand concepts such as Joyce's remain fairly rare for luxury retail in Shanghai, with only a few examples, like Younik at Bund 18 and I.T. The latter has lost some of its biggest designers after they opened monobrand shops in China, but Ma expressed little worry about encountering that situation. "I believe China is a market like the U.S., Japan and Europe, where monobrand and multilabel stores [coexist]," she said. "As a multilabel store, we carry many labels, which give the customers the convenience to shop under one roof. The key is in the selection and editing of collections."

While Joyce is famous in the Hong Kong fashion industry, its mainland reputation remains less established, but Ma expressed confidence that soon will change. "The publicity we generated from our Joyce opening would contribute to our branding in China tremendously. Thereafter, we will continue to work closely with publications on the editorial coverage of our brands, as most are new to the market."

The new Shanghai boutique was designed by Gert Voorjans in cooperation with artist Michele Oka Doner, who designed the distinctive gold latticework at the entry. "Plaza 66 is the most prestigious shopping mall in Shanghai and we believe this a most befitting location for us. While the foot traffic is not the highest in Plaza 66, it is very much a destination for the high-luxury and -fashion shoppers in Shanghai," said Ma. "Our entrance, with the golden scrim created especially for us by Michele Oka Doner, is very eye-catching and prominent. It can easily be seen from the Atrium of Plaza 66, so we are not worried about the visibility of our store.

"Our [strategy] for China is the same as Hong Kong — a combination of multilabel and monobrand stores," Ma concluded. "For the monobrand stores, we intend to focus on a handful of key brands and roll them out nationally in China. For the multilabel Joyce, we are looking for a suitable location in Beijing."

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