Alexander Wang’s China Expansion: Right Place, Right Time

Wang Will Have Opened One Store In Beijing, Two In Shanghai And One In Hong Kong This Year

Alexander Wang store, Beijing

One of the brightest young stars on the American fashion scene, Alexander Wang has already had a busy year in China, and doesn’t appear to have any intention of slowing down. Though the majority of China’s newly wealthy shoppers, most of whom live in inland second- and third-tier cities, remain fixated on the Louis Vuittons and Guccis of the fashion world, more sophisticated fashion mavens in cities like Beijing and Shanghai are showing a serious appetite for independent and niche designers from around the world, putting the likes of Wang at the right place at the right time for China expansion efforts. Last week, Wang opened his first China store in Beijing at the city’s Sanlitun Village North, where it sits nearby other “advanced-level” brands like Balenciaga, Lanvin, Maison Martin Margiela and Marni. For the grand opening party, stars like Gossip Girl‘s Penn Badgely and Zoë Kravitz and Chinese supermodel Du Juan came out in force, making Wang’s event one of the hottest tickets in the city.

But his first store in Beijing is only the beginning of Wang’s 2012 expansion effort. This week — following up his pop-up location at the multi-brand retailer JOYCE earlier this year — Wang launched his first permanent location in Hong Kong, at one of the city’s top high-end malls, Harbour City. Though Hong Kongers have long been able to find Wang’s designs at local stores such as Lane Crawford and Harvey Nichols, his new 1,600 square foot store, which carries his Alexander Wang line as well as the more casual T by Alexander Wang and Object Line, is sure to become a fashion landmark among locals and the famous hordes of mainland Chinese shoppers that regularly flock to Tsim Sha Tsui.

Next up for Wang’s China expansion is Shanghai, where the designer plans to open two new locations within the year. Like in Hong Kong, Wang’s designs are currently available in the city at stores like On Pedder at JOYCE and Le Lutin, but his two new stores — which predate a longer-term Asia expansion that will include more than a dozen new stores in Bangkok, Singapore, Tokyo and South Korea — will mark a major milestone for his brand’s development in China. Soon, Wang will also launch e-commerce in China, saying this week that “It’s the right time.”

Alexander Wang celebrates the opening of his new Beijing location (Image: Style.com)

So, beyond all of the hype following the opening of Wang’s new China stores, are his clothes finding a devoted audience in China? We’d say so, for two main reasons: One, Wang’s stripped-down, minimalist and largely monochrome designs appeal to the design sensibilities of the more individualistic fashion-forward types we’re seeing (particularly) in Beijing, and fit perfectly with the emerging “no-logo” movement that’s taken root among wealthier young Chinese in recent years. Also, Wang’s refusal to incorporate tired Chinese-inspired design clichés into his designs will be appreciated by his potential buyer base in the country. As Wang told China Daily this week, “I believe our customers are much more global citizens,” saying he wouldn’t “do something so stereotypical” as, say, sticking a dragon on a shirt to woo Chinese consumers. Said Wang, “I know who I am, but I take more inspiration from the experiences of how I grew up.” As the (somewhat unfortunately named) blog Chinese People Have No Style weighed in this week:

Upscale but not pretentious, well designed and accessible, wearable yet edgy, I believe this brand will go far in China, and hopefully keep Chinese people simultaneously cool but also down to earth. China neither has the room nor the need for pretense/pretension, so hopefully it will stop developing in that direction.

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