NEW YORK — Shanghai Tang is banking on reinvention as the key to its longevity.
Raphael le Masne de Chermont, executive chairman of Shanghai Tang, has spent the last two years refocusing the company’s image and expanding its business.
Increasing its retail presence is a key element of de Chermont’s plan. This fall, the company opened stores in Shanghai and Paris and has plans for additional freestanding boutiques in the U.S., Europe and Asia over the next two years. Prime locations for U.S. stores include Las Vegas, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston and Miami, with plans for an additional unit in Shanghai. The company currently has other units in New York, Honolulu, London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok and Beijing.
“These stores will showcase our development and the essence of the brand going forward,” said de Chermont.
De Chermont, along with Joanne Ooi, the company’s international marketing director, has also focused on refining Shanghai Tang’s apparel offerings by combining its Chinese origins with Western influences.
“By taking the historical significance of the brand and doing reprisals, our definitive mission is to safeguard the Chinese clothing tradition,” said Ooi.
To that end, they have introduced more modern silhouettes like miniskirts made of linen and silk, sportswear looks and contemporary prints that incorporate Chinese characters.
In its effort to create a Chinese lifestyle brand, the company is also launching additional product categories this spring, which include its first-ever perfume, Ginger Lily, a CD entitled “Shanghai Divas in Residence at Shanghai Tang,” which showcases both original and remixed versions of old-style songs from the 1930s to the 1960s, and the Shui collection, which means sleep in Chinese, featuring products like bedding and lingerie.
The 1,200-square-foot Paris flagship reflects the company’s latest strategy. Situated on Place Saint-Sulpice, the store opened its doors in November and, in a new concept, features not only women’s and men’s apparel, accessories and home, but also a teahouse, a travel agency that organizes trips to China and an art gallery.
Retail prices range from $150 for women’s cotton jackets; $1,200 for cashmere coats; $150 for pants; $275 silk dresses and $110 for short-sleeved silk tops with mandarin collars and Chinese closures.De Chermont declined to give any financial forecasts for the new stores, but noted that Shanghai Tang is looking for companies to partner with in order to open and operate additional U.S. stores. “It would be too difficult to run those stores properly from Hong Kong,” he said.
Yet he is confident that the brand is on the brink of undergoing a renaissance. “In Hong Kong, we’re seeing customers we haven’t seen in years come back and start shopping with us again.
“China needs a modern ambassador of its culture,” said de Chermont, “and it’s Shanghai Tang.”
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