This week, in our “Eye on London” series, Jing Daily looks at some of the brands, designers, hotels and restaurants in the London Luxury Quarter that are turning their attention to China’s sophisticated, seasoned traveler — the type who looks beyond the most visible brands and homes in on quality and craftsmanship over logos.
Earlier this week, Jing Daily took a look at what some London retailers and hoteliers are doing to cater to the growing number of wealthy Chinese tourists targeting the city as a luxury destination, from Chinese-language iPad apps to Mandarin-speaking sales staff. We also profiled some of the London heritage brands currently attracting Chinese travelers, and the measures the British government is now taking to bring in more Chinese visitors.
China’s more seasoned, globetrotting tourist-shoppers aren’t only showing up at London luxury landmarks like the new Burberry global flagship on Regent Street or at leading department stores like Fortnum & Mason, Selfridges and Harrods. Increasingly, the most discriminating of the bunch are seeking out more innovative multi-brand retailers, specialized stores, and up-and-coming labels, looking to set themselves apart from the crowds otherwise seen at the Louis Vuitton flagship on New Bond Street.
On our recent tour of the London Luxury Quarter — which encompasses high-end retailers in London’s swish West End, Bond Street, Oxford Street, and Regent Street — we had the chance to visit some of the most cutting-edge lifestyle stores in the city. Ranging from 40-year-old Browns, which continues to break ground, to new footwear brand Mr. Hare, one-of-a-kind wine store Hedonism, and the elegant and distinctly British womenswear label Temperley London, the area has clearly carved out a niche for itself as a destination for the world’s most discerning shoppers.
Founded by Joan Burstein and her husband Sidney in 1970s, Browns has grown from a small boutique at 27 South Molton Street to one of London’s most important fashion destinations. Expanding over the years into five connected townhouses, Browns is known for hand-picking talent from around the world and launching young designers to fame. Among the roster of stars discovered by Joan Burstein over the years are Alexander McQueen, Hussein Chalayan and Comme des Garçons On our tour of Browns, alongside leading designers like Christopher Kane and Roland Mouret, we noticed pieces by up-and-coming designers like Edeline Lee and Qingdao-born Chinese designer Huishan Zhang. Across the street, Browns stocks more avant-garde, younger womenswear pieces and accessories at its newer sister store, Browns Focus.
The presence of Huishan Zhang isn’t the only China-related point of note at Browns, however — the landmark retailer sits next to the first overseas location of the Chinese brand Bosideng.
24-27 South Molton Street, London W1K 5RD
Tel: 44 020 7514 0016
Launched in 2009 by Marc Hare, following a career in fashion marketing and retail, Mr. Hare offers limited edition footwear handmade in Tuscany with a notorious tongue-in-cheek bent and a keen eye for detailing. Starting off with a storefront at the Dover Street Market, Mr. Hare has most recently opened a new Mayfair location in the heart of the London Luxury Quarter. In addition to the Mayfair store, Mr. Hare is available through a number of stockists globally, among them Edition and Surrender in Asia.
8 Stafford Street, Mayfair, London W1S 4RU
Tel: 44 020 7495 4200
Called “a wine shop like no other” by the Telegraph and a “temple of fine wine” by the Wall Street Journal, Hedonism Wines truly stands alone even in a city awash in the best wines the world has to offer. Stocking 4,500 wines and 1,500 spirits across two sprawling floors, the store’s welcoming design and passionate staff demystify wine while accomplishing what the stereotypical stuffy fine wine retailer has never really managed to do: made the process of finding the right wine enjoyable. With wines starting at around US$24 and spiraling upward from there well into the thousands of dollars, it’s difficult to say that Hedonism has “something for everybody,” but it most certainly has something for every wine and spirits aficionado who truly cares about what he or she puts in a glass. The surroundings, however, are less about “opulence” and more about a design aesthetic you’ve never seen before in a wine store. A trademark lighting installation features suspended Riedel glasses, while the chilly downstairs section (staff provides customers with warm throw blankets) features a moving vine sculpture that seems to have leapt out of the 1986 film “Labyrinth.”
While design is key to Hedonism’s image, make no mistake — the wine is the star of the show. A wall of Chateau d’Yquem vintages spanning centuries, illuminated by backlight, ranges in hue from burnt honey to pure gold, while basement cells feature full verticals of some of the world’s best wines. One of the most impressive, the “Mouton” room, contains a bottle of every vintage of Château Mouton-Rothschild from 1945 to 2004. Another basement room features hand-made sculptures emerging from the brick walls to cradle rare bottles of Sine Qua Non. Wine lovers looking for a little less than a double magnum of Chateau Lafite can sip wines by the glass from the store’s Enoteca machine, enjoying an unusual mix of music from the dedicated record player. (Customers can peruse and play the store’s selection of LPs. The soundtrack during our trip included Joy Division.)
Considering their demand for the world’s best wines to stock new collections, we expect that Hedonism will see its fair share of China’s burgeoning wine lovers. Luckily for these shoppers, Hedonism’s polyglot staff — which speaks around 15 languages among them — is among the best suited in London to cater to this demographic.
3-7 Davies Street, London W1K 3LD
Tel: 44 020 7290 7870
Founded in 2001 by namesake creative director, Alice Temperley, MBE, Temperley London is one of the most exciting names in contemporary British fashion. With three standalone stores in London, Los Angeles and Dubai, and available online, The House of Temperley currently includes three lines: Temperley London, Alice by Temperley, and Temperley Bridal. Stockists encompass 35 countries worldwide, and the company’s online shop offers shipping to mainland China as well as Hong Kong. (Alice by Temperley is also stocked by Harvey Nichols, which has a location at the Landmark in Hong Kong.)
Wearing its Britishness proudly on its sleeve, Temperley London in particular strongly appealed to the Chinese participants on our tour, with the top quality materials and local pedigree of Temperley’s dresses, coats and accessories eliciting plenty of oohs and aahs.
27 Bruton Street, London W1J 6QN
Tel: 44 020 7229 7957