NEW YORK — The last time Shanghai Tang made headlines in New York, they were of the wrong kind.
It was in July 1999, when its high-profile, 12,500-square-foot flagship on Madison Avenue and 61st Street closed only 19 months after it had opened, a victim of high rents, its own hype and fashion miscues.
But the company appears to have learned its lessons. Today, a reinvented Shanghai Tang, which occupies a smaller space at 714 Madison Avenue near 63rd Street, is poised for expansion with the help of its deep-pocketed parent, Compagnie Financière Richemont SA.
Raphaël le Masne de Chermont, executive chairman of Tang Department Stores Limited, has spent the last three years quietly transforming the company into a lifestyle brand. Gone are the kitschy items such as Mao watches and T-shirts with a likeness of the late Communist leader. The prerevolutionary and Cultural Revolution styles are now updated for the 21st century. There’s a made-to-measure business where customers can create their own wedding gowns and evening gowns for $1,500 to $5,000. The price depends upon the fabric choices, which include hand-brocaded silk, lace and beaded fabrics, which cost $40 to $80 a yard. The most popular bridal gown style is the traditional cheongsam with custom-made buttons.
De Chermont plans to take the store count to 30 from the current 17 in the next two years. Next week, he will preside over the opening of a store in Jakarta, Indonesia. With three stores in China and five in Hong Kong, the company is clearly focused on Asia, where its name is well known. In September, Shanghai Tang will open flagships in Beijing and the Ginza in Tokyo.
There also is a push into Europe, with a flagship scheduled to open in Milan in spring 2006. Two in-store shops are opening as well, in Zurich’s Globus department store in the fall and Galeries Lafayette in Paris in spring 2006.
In the U.S., de Chermont has singled out a handful of cities — Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Chicago and Las Vegas — as suitable locations for Shanghai Tang stores. “We don’t want to be overexposed,” he said. “The shopping experience is unique.”De Chermont uses his friend, Ralph Toledano, chairman and chief executive officer of Chloé, as a sounding board. “He has been helping me a lot,” said de Chermont, who maintained that Shanghai Tang makes money. (Chloé also is part of Richemont.)
“My job was to turn the company to profitability,” he said. “The last two years have been profitable. The first rule of working for Richemont is, ‘It’s forbidden not to make money.’”
De Chermont declined to discuss volume for the company or specific stores. However, sources said the 6,000-square-foot New York store does $5 million in annual revenue.
According to luxury analysts, Richemont is clearly preoccupied with growing its successful watch and jewelry businesses. “They’re focussing less on textiles and apparel and enhancing the stores and improving the margins for Cartier,” said Bear Stearns’ Dana Telsey.
De Chermont, the former managing director of the Asia Pacific division for Richemont brands Piaget, Baume & Mercier and Panerai, is thinking along the same lines. “We will do watches next year in a serious way,” he said.
Shanghai Tang’s jewelry range, which is made by Sandra d’Auriol, a French designer based in Hong Kong, is being expanded and de Chermont wants to get the company into licensed products such as eyewear and fragrance.
Shanghai Tang’s updated approach to fashion is most evident in its collaborations with designers such as Philip Treacy, who made hats of brightly striped fabric and fur for winter. Treacy is working on another collection for spring. A collaboration between Shanghai Tang and Studd by Gabby Harris yielded a line of T-shirts embellished with sequins, beads and embroidery for spring, and there’s a collection of Puma shoes coming in May.
De Chermont hopes all this, along with the new stores, will raise awareness of the brand.
“I see this as a strong lifestyle brand,” he said. “It’s sort of a Chinese Ralph Lauren.”
@chanel and @pharrell dropped what’s being dubbed as the world’s most exclusive sneakers yesterday. The Adidas Originals NMD Hu, which Williams designed in collaboration with Chanel and @adidasoriginals, has a waiting list of over 120K people who pre-registered online at chanelatcolette.fr –– and only 500 pairs are on sale. The singer predicted the resale value of the shoes could reach $40K. Read the full interview on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdfashion (📷: Dominique Maître)
@imanshumpert is diving deeper into his creative endeavors and relaunching his clothing line, Post 90s, and is helping to raise money for the hurricane victims in St. Maarten with a jersey he’s designed with his brother. The Cleveland Cavaliers player talked to WWD about kneeling during the national anthem, working with fashion brands and how he wants to be more than an @nba player. Read the interview on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
Not only does #TheProfit return to CNBC tonight, but @marcuslemonis has launched @shopmarcus, a new shopping and lifestyle retail experience in Aspen and Chicago, with more locations to come. The retail stores offer in-store stylists and a variety of contemporary womenswear selections.
“It’s life, I’m going to face it,” @mingxi11 sighed. “I fell, but you know, I think the most important thing is that I get back up. I had the love, the help from my sister — the girl next to me Gizele [Oliveira] — she’s so nice. When I went backstage everybody was trying to comfort me like ‘Oh Ming, it’s OK.’ I’m really, really touched. I think it’s them who gave me the courage to go back on stage for the finale,” Xi told WWD of her fall at the @victoriassecret fashion show. (📷: David Fisher) #wwdfashion #vsfashionshow #victoriassecret
@louisvuitton tapped @therealpeterlindbergh for its latest city-centric photo book, which is part of a series called Fashion Eye. The primarily black and white book captures the spirit of Berlin in 57 images shot between 1989 and 2019. “Berlin is an inspiration for me, more than a city. I mean @millajovovich is simply Berlin!” said Lindbergh. #wwdfashion
“You know, I think audiences expect a certain performance so I have to deliver to them what they’re expecting to a certain degree. But I’m also a different actor and a different person, I have my own spin on the character,” says @noahegalvin of his takeover of the leading role in “Dear Evan Hansen” following the departure of @bensplatt, who originated the role. Read WWD’s interview with the 23-year-old actor on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
For pre-fall 2018, @etro created richly-colored wonderland, using tapestries, textiles and wallpapers from the Eastern world at large. The line featured floral and graphic prints and jacquard motifs, like this two-piece look featured here. #wwdfashion (📷: Giovanna Pavesi)
@kith is moving into children’s. The men’s and women’s streetwear brand has launched Kidset, a Kith kids line located in New York at 64 Bleecker Street. The line includes mini versions of staple Kith pieces like the Astor bomber jacket and the Kith box logo sweatshirts, along with a wall that can display up to 120 pairs of shoes from @adidas, @newbalance, @timberland and more. #wwdfashion
“I just wanted to create this fully rounded character, but I do think what excited me most was just the opportunity to give a group of people representation that I feel needs it. I like to do characters in projects that stand for something and Karolina definitely does, so that was really exciting to me,” @ginnygardner says of her new role in @hulu’s “The Runaways.” Gardner plays Karolina Dean, a queer superhero, which is a rarity for @marvel. Read more about Gardner’s character on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @dandoperalski)