Label To Open 5,000 Sq Foot “Megastore” In Shanghai By End Of Year
Kicking off its second crack at the China market, following a well-publicized withdrawal five years ago, leading British label Paul Smith recently unveiled its first new location in Tianjin. Having — in some analysts’ eyes — jumped the gun by entering China before consumers had warmed to more low-key labels, Paul Smith is optimistic that the emerging brand-savvy Chinese shopper will mean its prospects in 2013 are far better than they were in 2006.
Spearheaded by the new Tianjin location, Paul Smith’s renewed China push will be both old-school and cutting-edge, with the brand expanding its brick-and-mortar presence while jumping into domestic Chinese social media platforms. Hoping to open around 20 locations nationwide over the next five years, Paul Smith is preparing to open its very first mainland China flagship, a 5,000 square foot (465 square meter) “megastore” in Shanghai by the end of this year.
Located in the Lotte Department Store at Tianjin’s Milky Way International Shopping Center, Tianjin’s Paul Smith boutique wouldn’t look entirely out-of-place in London, with a nicely outfitted interior featuring pale yellow limestone floors and antique furniture. Using the same store-in-store effect seen at Paul Smith locations at Heathrow Terminal 5 and on Greene Street in New York, the Tianjin boutique is divided into four discrete sections: menswear, footwear, jewelry, and womenswear. Each section features its own British flavor, with the menswear section outfitted in traditional hand-carved oak paneling, a pair of 19th century oak tables and two antique chairs upholstered with Maharam fabric personally designed by Sir Paul Smith. With oak flooring in a unique zigzag pattern, a light pink striped backdrop, a central antique dolphin-base table, and a coral chandelier, the womenswear section is the yin to the menswear area’s yang.
As Jing Daily noted in August, Paul Smith is optimistic that changing demand in the country — led by shoppers with an eye on quality and style rather than logos and flash — will help it capture more of the country’s still-booming high fashion segment despite consumer slowdown fears. By 2020, the mainland China fashion market is expected to triple in size to more than 1.3 trillion yuan (US$206 billion), up from 400 billion yuan in 2010. As Balbina Wong, chief executive officer for ImagineX Group (Paul Smith’s distributor in the Greater China region), put it this summer, “This is the right time to join the race…Chinese consumers are becoming more sophisticated and brand-conscious. China’s overall GDP may slow, but the middle-class is growing.”
As Sir Paul Smith told the FT, “There is a lot more awareness of Paul Smith [in China] now than there used to be…There are a lot of people who are not necessarily looking for the obvious symbols of wealth or fashion. They are more looking to buy things that they know are interesting, or special.”
Paul Smith Tianjin
Lotte Department Store, 1-L-013
9 Leyuan Ave., Hexi District, Tianjin
Tel：(022) 5890 8120