Tiffany & Co. is ready with its Shanghai statement.
The company’s redesigned and relocated flagship at Shanghai’s Hong Kong Plaza has quietly opened and is ready to bridge the brand’s deep New York heritage and the modern Chinese shopper.
A portrait of Charles Lewis Tiffany, who opened the company’s first store in 1837, looks out over 10,000 square feet of retail space with white marble detailing, stylish millwork and a fresh take on what luxe jewelry shoppers want today.
The store, which is nearly twice as big as the location it replaces, will celebrate its grand opening on Dec. 19 and the Blue Box Cafe — the first in Mainland China — will open on Dec. 23.
Alessandro Bogliolo, chief executive officer, told WWD that the reintroduction of the flagship is a “foundational” moment for the brand as it continues to establish itself in China, the world’s most important luxury market.
A two-story facade in blue-lit glass beckons consumers and heralds a new day for Tiffany, which next year is set to become part of the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton empire with a $16.2 billion deal inked last month.
“It’s a huge store,” Bogliolo said. “It’s the largest one in North Asia. The prominence of the location. The façade — it’s amazing. It’s a very modern building, but the intersection is busy and it’s super visible. You cannot drive in Shanghai and miss this store. It’s quite a step forward compared to where Tiffany stores were.”
Bogliolo has been busy modernizing Tiffany, working to turn it into the next generation luxury jeweler. That means both communicating the brand’s rich heritage — from Truman Capote’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” the film starring Audrey Hepburn and the famous Blue Book catalogue — and embracing new consumers.
In Shanghai, Tiffany now has the space to display the scope for the brand and Bogliolo’s full vision for what it can become.
That means, in part, taking down some of the barriers between sales associates and shoppers.
Instead of 360-degree counters that separate the two, the large salon on just the other side of the entrance features display counters that allow shoppers and associates to stand on either side.
“This is quite amazing because it changes completely the flow of customers on the selling floor,” Bogliolo said.
And in a nod to local preferences, the area featuring diamond rings is very private and has lots of places for couples to sit together to celebrate their purchase.
“While in the Western world, you have people who buy solitaire diamonds at the counter, in China and Asia, they prefer to sit,” Bogliolo said.
The store’s second floor is devoted to VIPs and the Blue Box Cafe, which will, of course, serve breakfast in addition to lunch and dinner.
There is a VIP reception area that can be used to display pieces from Tiffany’s vast archive, present a new collection or host a private dinner with several couples.
“Really, it’s a way to receive customers the way we like to,” Bogliolo said. “Until now, that was not possible in Shanghai.”
That kind of service is important at the store, which will permanently feature the brand’s high jewelry and is just steps away from the Hermès flagship.
Reed Krakoff, chief artistic officer, leads the overarching artistic and design vision for the brand’s stores, but the new Shanghai location also reflects a group effort with the retail and marketing teams weighing in to craft the customer experience.
“It’s really about the interaction with the customer, not just the beautiful finishing,” Bogliolo said.
The ceo, who spent some of the weekend checking into the brand’s new outpost at Hudson Yards in New York, said every new store offers a learning experience.
And each new lesson will ultimately be reflected in the company’s Fifth Avenue flagship, which is set to close for a total renovation that will boost the firm’s capital expenditures by 1 to 2 percent annually and will be completed by late 2021.
Last week, WWD spied Bogliolo giving LVMH chief Bernard Arnault and his sons Alexandre and Frédéric a tour of the New York City flagship.
Asked if the luxury titan had any feedback, Bogliolo noted, “He was smiling, which is the most sincere feedback.”