Hong’s Beijing Boutique, Brand New China, Opened In August 2010
This summer, Jing Daily covered the opening of Brand New China (BNC), a boutique at Beijing’s Sanlitun Village founded by Hong Huang (洪晃), a popular media figure, publisher and blogger. Specializing in designs by up-and-coming domestic designers, BNC is among the handful of Beijing boutiques that cater to the burgeoning demand from more adventurous Chinese shoppers, many of whom are looking for something beyond the low-end Chinese brands or higher-end Western brands that dominate the market. Recently, Hong spoke to the 21st Century Business Herald about her new store and her thoughts on the future of domestic fashion design in China.
From the interview (translation by Jing Daily team):
21st Century Business Herald (21CBH): Why’d you choose to open “Brand New China” (BNC) in [Beijing’s] Sanlitun [neighborhood]?
Hong Huang (HH): Sanlitun Village hoped to have Chinese designers open up shops in the North Village, so they asked me to attract some designers, which I thought was great. But when I went to pull in some local designers, I discovered they didn’t really have the ability to open their own stores.
Finally, only three designers opened boutiques, which didn’t take up the entire area that was allotted to them and ultimately left me with an empty L-shaped [retail] area. So afterwards, I opened my own store, specializing in products by Chinese designers, so those without the means to open their own boutiques would have a place to sell their designs.
21CBH: How old are the designers you carry? How do you define your customers? For example, do they have to be “luxury lovers“?
HH: Most of the designers were born in the ’70s or ’80s (the “post-70s” (七零后) and “post-80s” (八零后) generations — JD). We don’t design according to any one group in particular, because our original intent is based on the idea that as long as the Chinese have spending power, and are looking for fashion that is infused with culture, they’ll be interested in domestic designers.
21CBH: With the current influx of luxury goods [in China] and the frenzy among the nouveau riche to buy, what weaknesses or inadequacies do Chinese designers have?
HH: Since a lot of local designers have their products made in workshops, they lack production experience. Some designers weren’t up to snuff for BNC, not because of the aesthetic quality of their items but rather because of product quality. Your shirt shouldn’t bust open at the seams the first time you wear it and your bag shouldn’t have any problems the first time you take it out. There needs to be a balance struck between quality and the price point the designers want to set.
21CBH: Will the high price of design set the threshold for Chinese designers?
HH: Where the designer is considered, selling at high prices doesn’t have much meaning. Retailers are the ones who want to sell at high prices, since the profits are theirs after all. I told designers, from a cost standpoint, set the most reasonable price you can accept. If designers have limited designs, we’ll make one set to sell at five thousand yuan and perhaps sell two items. But the fact is, if I set the price at something more reasonable, say 1200 yuan, it’ll sell better.
21CBH: Are you considering moving towards luxury development, for example haute couture?
HH: We regularly invite designers to do small shows, and this time the focus is haute couture, geared towards VIP consumers. As for whether we’ll permanently offer haute couture services, we’ll have to see.