SHANGHAI — Patrick Robinson, creative director of Paco Rabanne, is brimming with ideas for expansion in China.
“I adore Shanghai,” Robinson said during his first visit to the city this month. “I just feel like the young people here are going to truly change the world. They’re all looking toward the future, and I think it’s going to be extraordinary. Young Chinese have this love for luxury, for life.”
Robinson was here for Shanghai Fashion Week, which Paco Rabanne inaugurated with a show in Fuxing Park Nov. 1. Other houses presenting in the three-year-old fashion week included Lagerfeld Gallery, Basso & Brook and Preen.
“I made every effort to rearrange my schedule to be here,” he said. “I’ve always been fascinated with China. The whole world is talking about how fabulous it is … It’s even more interesting than people say. There’s something very spectacular about it, so much energy, and this mixed culture.”
Paco Rabanne has no distribution in mainland China, and only has a presence in Lane Crawford in Hong Kong. That could change in the immediate future, though, Robinson said.
“I came because I wanted to introduce the brand here, and personally wanted to come to understand better where this market is headed. It’s definitely heading in the right direction,” he said.
During the visit, Robinson met with luxury complex Three on the Bund about possibly selling there, and is also eyeing Plaza 66 as a location for a Paco Rabanne flagship that could open as soon as next year.
“We want to approach the market in an inventive way,” Robinson said. “We wouldn’t just open a flagship and have the product in it. For example, this collection uses vintage kimonos in all of the clothes. In the stores, every dress is exclusive, because every one is made with the vintage kimono fabric. No two are alike, so each is made one at a time. This gives it an exclusivity, versus mass luxury. This gives us an interesting conversation, being inventive at retail … it can be a one-on-one experience.”
Robinson praised the Shanghai International Fashion Committee, Shanghai Fashion Week’s organizers. “Shanghai at this point can become one of the international stops,” he said. “I told [the SIFC], fashion isn’t just clothing. When you look at bringing the culture of fashion to Shanghai, it also should expand more into the arts, because most designers enjoy being surrounded by musicians and artists and graphic people, architects, too.”
Robinson stressed the need to better train new Chinese talent, and Paco Rabanne plans to start offering six-month internships to Chinese design students.