SHANGHAI — Instead of hosting a star-studded ribbon-cutting event, Hermès launched its Nanjing store last Sunday with an auspicious ceremony featuring a Taoist priest.
Initially opened in 2010, the new store within Deji Plaza in Nanjing takes up a more prominent location spread over two floors. A part of the storefront was previously occupied by Dolce & Gabbana.
Designed by longtime Hermès collaborator, the Parisian architecture firm RDAI, the store highlights the color beige, which defines the city that served as the capital of various Chinese dynasties, and the color indigo, echoing the local Nankeen dyeing tradition. The store’s facade is enveloped by Champagne-colored glass that imitates Hermès’ iconic mosaic motif.
The store’s interiors highlight locally sourced materials, with the floor, staircase and the marquetry of the jewelry and watches section covered in bamboo. A handwoven carpet is inspired by a local stone called “rain flower,” while display shelves for leather goods are decorated with woven wicker.
As Hermès’ 27th store in China, the shop features the brand’s full range of products, including men’s and women’s ready-to-wear, perfume, beauty, fashion jewelry and home objects. According to Hermès, the store is “a testament to Hermès’ confidence in the Chinese market.”
To inaugurate the opening of the store and bestow good fortune upon the reopened store, Hermès hosted a Taoism ritual with a dragon and lion dance performance.
The Taoist priest, dressed in a yellow robe and a traditional headpiece, recited specific passages while holding burning incense, then kneeled before a table full of auspicious offerings to worship the god of wealth, according to images and videos posted on Chinese social media.
The extensive ritual was widely discussed by Chinese netizens online, but Deji Plaza staff said the ceremony was only “standard practice for store openings” and a display of Chinese traditions, according to local media outlets. After the ceremony, lines quickly formed outside the store as the city’s high-net-worth individuals rushed to secure a much-coveted Hermès handbag.
According to industry insiders, hosting auspicious rituals became more common among retailers as stores grappled with market uncertainty due to the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic.
For example, when SKP Chengdu opened last December, more than a dozen luxury brands, including Louis Vuitton, Celine, Gucci and Tom Ford hosted similar rituals.
With COVID-19 out of the picture, Barclays projects that China will recover from the COVID-19 pandemic sooner than expected. According to Barclays’ research, the Chinese luxury market will grow by 15 percent in 2023.
Despite temporary store closures in 2022, Hermès saw sustained demand for the brands’ leather goods in mainland China, which helped boost global leather goods sales by 13.2 percent in the third quarter.
Hermès doubled down on the Chinese market last year with a Wuhan store upgrade and two new stores in Zhengzhou and Shanghai. This year, Hermès plans to open three to four new stores or upgrade existing ones.