May 30, 2013

New Shanghai Art Mall Lends Cutting-Edge Cachet To Luxury Brands

Avant-Garde Space Mixes Emerging Mainland Labels With Established Brands

K11's new mall in Shanghai. (Creative Hunt)

K11′s new mall in Shanghai. (Creative Hunt)

To distinguish themselves in an increasingly crowded luxury market, many brands in China have been teaming up with artists on product collaborations or in-store art exhibitions. The idea is to give an edgier boost to their brand image and sense of aesthetic individuality. Bottega Veneta’s series of exhibitions at its Shanghai concept store is a recent example of this trend. But the concept has been kicked up a notch with a series of full-size “art malls.” Opening throughout China, the new malls were commissioned by K11, a company run by Chow Tai Fook Executive Director Adrian Cheng.

Already in Hong Kong since 2009, K11′s first mainland location opened in Shanghai this past Friday on Huaihuai Lu. It features art installations throughout the space, providing a visually engaging backdrop to luxury shops looking to draw the mall’s stylish clientele. The 40,000-square-meter, six-level location includes not only stores, but also screening spaces, a reading room, and an event space.

K11′s locations typically feature both established and up-and-coming foreign and Chinese luxury brands. Well-known names, including Burberry, Max Mara, Dolce & Gabbana, and Armani Watches are interspersed with young, hip, Chinese brands such as Daydream Nation.

When the Wall Street Journal asked Cheng about his thoughts on the luxury slowdown, he responded that brands can overcome the slump if they set themselves apart:

“Luxury is very complicated,” said Mr. Cheng, who is the grandson of Hong Kong tycoon Cheng Yu-teng.

“The market hit the most is not on the ultra-luxury, but on the luxury or premium side,” he said, adding that “affordable luxury” is doing well. Ultra-luxury items — those priced above 20,000 yuan ($3,200) — and mid-priced luxury items of around 3,000 yuan are resilient, he says. But in between, things can “hurt a bit.”

Still, he says some brands even in this range can perform well if they differentiate themselves from others or have strong personalities.

“Lifestyle and value propositions to the customer are key to the success, too,” said Mr. Cheng.

Photos from the space are featured below via Creative Hunt:

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Architecture & Design / Art / Culture
Tag: Armani Watches, Art, art exhibit, art installation... , More
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