Byline: Constance Haisma-Kwok

HONG KONG — Max Azria has his Asian showcase and a jumping-off point for Chinese expansion.
Hong Kong’s first freestanding BCBG Max Azria store opened March 15 on Canton Road in Kowloon, one of this city’s most popular shopping streets. The 2,000-square foot-space houses ready-to-wear, eveningwear and accessories.
“We’re a lifestyle brand and right now the concept is to put a whole lifestyle under one roof,” said Max Azria, the label’s designer and the owner of the BCBG Max Azria Group.
The two-level flagship was conceptualized at the company’s headquarters in Los Angeles and will serve as a template for other BCBG stores in the region. Sales at the new boutique are expected to reach $2,000 a square foot, Azria said, or about $4 million annually.
It’s a busy time for BCBG in this part of the world.
“The Taiwan stores are being remodeled,” said Azria of the nine existing BCBG Max Azria boutiques there, “and our first Shanghai store will open in two weeks.” That store, located on the ground floor of Plaza 66, a new high-end shopping mall, will measure about 1,500-square feet.
Azria, who flew to Shanghai directly after the cocktail party-fashion show opening of the Hong Kong store, described the decor as “a mix of modern and classic. We wanted to create a backdrop that would allow you to see more of the clothes.” The interior, with chrome fittings and cream-colored walls, is warmed by one red wall on each level and cherry wood floors. Cherry wood was also used to frame oversized mirrors and to trim the square boxes that display handbags and accessories. According to Azria, the Asian influence in the interior reflects his current ready-to-wear collection. “Color is very important,” he said. “I was inspired by the film ‘Indochine.”‘
Although BCBG Max Azria is already sold in four doors at upscale retailer Lane Crawford, with which the American company has had a four-year relationship, this is the first store to open under BCBG’s partnership agreement with Imaginex Hong Kong Ltd., a local distributor. Imaginex also has deals with such brands as Tod’s and Salvatore Ferragamo. Azria said the timing was right for the opening.
“Based on our experience, their expertise and the quality of this partner, when they asked if we wanted to join them for Greater China distribution, we immediately said yes.” He said the stores have been in the planning stages for about eight or nine months.
Azria also noted that he has changed his mind about an accessories-only boutique. “I have thought about it many times,” he said. “But for now, we want to focus the stores on showing a complete lifestyle.”
Azria, who made four stops during his Asia trip, including one to Japan where there are 15 BCBG Max Azria stores, took the opportunity to plug BCBG’s first-ever fragrance, which will launch in September globally. The BCBG fragrance is being produced through a deal with Unilever.