PARIS — China’s Shiatzy Chen is ramping up its international expansion with the inauguration Monday of the brand’s second store here, located on Avenue Montaigne.
As the only Asian brand to have a flagship boutique on the prestigious shopping street, the opening “marks an important milestone for the industry and, more importantly, for our brand,” said Harry Wang, the company’s chief executive officer. Wang is also the son of Wang Chen Tsai-Hsia, the label’s designer, and Wang Yuan-Hong, who founded the label in Taiwan in 1978. Shiatzy Chen will host a cocktail reception during the day at the store, with Natalia Vodianova and Antoine Arnault expected to attend.
It’s a major step for the brand in positioning itself on the global stage, said Wang, who cited among the biggest challenges connecting with customers in the U.S. and Europe on “the brand’s story, craftsmanship and unique design.” The company, which has been presenting in Paris since 2008, works with an international team on its collections and shoots its advertising campaigns in New York and Paris.
The aim with the new store is to draw local and international customers, though “we can expect a portion of the store traffic will be from Chinese tourists,” Wang said. “We aspire to compete in the top global luxury segment, together with players such as Hermès, Chanel and Dior.”
Working with celebrity ambassadors is also a key strategy for widening the brand’s reach, Wang said, with Kendall Jenner, Miranda Kerr, Jessica Alba, Lady Gaga and Eva Longoria among faces to have attended Shiatzy Chen events over the years.
The design of the Avenue Montaigne store, which is located next to the Prada boutique and measures around 1,600 square feet, is based on a tailored version of an East-meets-West design concept rolled out in 2013 by Australia-based architect Johannes Hartfuss of Layan Design Group. Features include a laser-cut reinterpretation of the Chinese screen in the store’s window based on triangle motifs, a symbol of the Song Dynasty. A marble wall connecting the two floors is also worked in a graphic, 3-D triangular motif.
The ground floor hosts the accessories collections, including its signature bags with jade accents, intricate handmade embroideries and beaded motifs, such as one depicting a phoenix, and this season’s jewelry collection based on a harvest theme. Since the house’s inception, it has worked with embroiderers from Suzhou, an ancient city located near Shanghai, where the company also has a huge concept store.
The men’s and women’s clothing lines are presented on the first floor, with items ranging from contemporary men’s jackets with Chinese collars to embroidered denim jackets and a rich red coat embroidered with a dragon motif at the back. Known for fusing Western cuts with Chinese codes, house signatures also include 18th-century references, with lace among key materials. Women’s ready-to-wear is the star category, and Shiatzy Chen’s core customer age group is 40 to 55, with first generation clients having followed the brand. The focus now is on netting a younger clientele, Wang said.
The upper floor boasts a spacious salon and dressing room giving onto a small garden, with among the decor an artwork in silk embroidery depicting a silkworm cocoon and trails of silk, as a symbol of creation.
The first boutique opened in Paris in 2001, but the brand has had an office in the city since 1990. Other stores are also planned for London and key European cities in the next three to five years, with the U.S. among other target markets, though China, Japan and Southeast Asia will still be the brand’s focus for expansion, Wang said, citing China, Taiwan, Hong Kong/Macau and Japan as the top regions. He declined to share revenues, but said “same-store sales are growing year by year,” citing “double-digit growth for the last three years in key markets, especially China.”
The luxury house, which counts around 70 stores in total, including 27 in China and 38 in Taiwan, will fete its 40th anniversary next year and is planning a retrospective that will be open to the public. The brand is also partnering with Disney to launch a collection in 2018, and is working with a few top celebrities from China to launch a young Shiatzy Chen collection online. “The purpose of the collaboration is also to expand our target to a younger segment,” Wang said.