Awarded a prime location in the heart of the Shanghai Village, Chuang x Yi boutique boasts luxury clothing, accessories and furniture at a discounted price. But unlike its counterparts at the designer outlet mall, Chuang x Yi stocks exclusively Chinese brands.
The concept, created by the management at Value Retail Villages, was inspired by the success of similar locally sourced concepts in their other outlet villages across the globe. In London, for example, British designers were brought together for the ‘Best of British’ campaign at Bicester Village designer shopping outlet. However, the Chuang x Yi boutique at Suzhou Village, as well as at Shanghai Village, located just a short walk from Shanghai Disney Resort, is the first permanent boutique of its kind, selling items from a collection of well-known Chinese designers, such as Helen Lee, Ji Cheng, Missy Skins and Babyghost.
The store’s slogan ‘Made by China’ is prominently featured in the shop. Group Retail Director for Value Retail, Simon Williamson, said the idea is to move away from the long-standing impression of Made in China as ‘cheap and tacky’ and promote quality, luxury Chinese brands.
The boutique not only serves to send this message to the consumer, but also aids the local fashion industry in other ways. Cathy You Jia, the business innovation manager at Value Retail China, said, “the store works as a way of liquidizing stock that designers can be left with and unsure what to do with once the new season’s collections come out.” Like the other stores in the outlet mall, Chuang x Yi sells designs from previous seasons, with average discounts ranging from 20 to 30 percent off the full retail price.
Another goal is the acquisition of a larger customer database—95 percent of Chuang x Yi’s customers are new consumers of the Chinese brands on offer. “We want to promote the designers and brands in a way that encourages consumers to go and shop at the full-price stores,” Jia said. “We’re aiming to raise brand awareness to different regions and to different types of customers.”
Alongside this, the store prides itself on offering professional retail management advice to smaller and lesser-known Chinese designer brands. Although most of the brands stocked at Chuang x Yi have full-price stores in downtown Shanghai, Chloe Chen was the first designer to open up her own discount retail store in Shanghai Village. ”We’d love for this to be the first example of many of this kind,” said Williamson. “We’re now able to use growing awareness of certain Chinese designers, like Chloe Chen, Helen Lee and Ji Cheng to promote and support smaller designers.”
Targeting a consumer base that for years has revolved around big-name brands, Williamson said, “99.9 percent of our customers are Chinese, supporting our belief as a company that consumers love to embrace being able to connect with brands and support designers who are local and relatable to them.”
Prices in the store range from 8,000 RMB (US$1,200) for vintage silk garments by Xiaowen Zhu, to jewelery available for 400 RMB (US$60) by Beijing-based designer Yi Chuan, who combines Chinese blue porcelain with contemporary designs.
The store itself was designed by local architecture company Lukstudio. Inspired by Shanghai’s ancient alleyways and modular interconnected lilongs, or lanes, the artistic curation of the store juxtaposes traditional intricacy with a clean minimalist vibe. Lukstudio created sectioned areas from woven bamboo to reflect the windows and partitions of a traditional lane house structure.
Although there are no current plans to open stores outside of Value Retail, this isn’t something Chuang x Yi would rule out, with the boutique consistently scoring as one of the highest against Shanghai Village’s international luxury brands on customer feedback evaluations. There is a chance Value Retail itself will expand in Greater China, with possible locations in the works for Beijing, Guangzhou and Hong Kong.