Q&A: Charles Wang Of Avant-Garde Beijing Boutique, Dong Liang

Boutique In Wudaoying Hutong Exclusively Stocks Pieces By Chinese Designers

Interior of Dong Liang

In recent years, a new fashion revolution has taken hold in China as a surge of avant-garde boutiques have opened in fashion-conscious cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Harnessing popular digital platforms like Sina Weibo and Douban, some of these small concept stores have managed to attain cult status, in the process becoming tastemakers for China’s new generation of fashion-savvy urbanites.

Beijing’s Dong Liang is no exception. Since its founding in 2009, the boutique has become a must-see destination for chic Beijingers. Situated in the sleepy Wudaoying Hutong, Dong Liang perfectly blends in with its surroundings, easily mistaken for just another banal shop. But when night falls, Dong Liang springs to life, its brightly lit interior clashing with the inky streets just outside. Fresh European-influenced design infuses the store with modernism and highlights the stars of the show: the products on display — all of which are created by Chinese designers.

Jing Daily recently exchanged a Q&A with Charles Wang of Dong Liang (translated from the original Chinese by Tina Liu):

Jing Daily (JD): Can you tell us a little about the store, and the meaning of the name “Dong Liang“?

Charles Wang (CW): The creator of Dong Liang, Nam Lang, who worked for a long time in graphic design, thought of the idea to showcase unsung new designers. Later, Nam turned that dream into reality via Dong Liang. While the name “Dong Liang” doesn’t have any special meaning, the words themselves do sort of have a zen-like simplicity with hints of masculinity.

JD: Young designers are injecting new blood into the Chinese design community. With so many talented young designers out there, how does Dong Liang select its collections?

CW: Those who collaborate with Dong Liang are chosen based on their individuality, and are approved if their designs fit with market demand. We put a priority on product detail, quality, and the completeness of each designer’s collection.

 

Dong Liang entrance

JD: There are many high-profile concept stores outside of China, namely Opening Ceremony in New York and Los Angeles and Colette in Paris. Do you foresee the same path for Dong Liang? At the same time, how can Dong Liang avoid becoming another concept store clone? What do you see as your unique strategic direction?

CW: The name “Dong Liang” doesn’t have an English equivalent; the lack of such is an indication of our exclusive focus on Chinese designs. Only through preserving its ethnic flavor can Chinese design ever become truly cosmopolitan. Since our products speak for our individuality, we’re confident in Dong Liang’s ability to stand out from other concept stores.

However, we do believe the concept stores mentioned above are highly exceptional. If opportunities come up in the future, we welcome any collaboration with them.

JD: We’re now entering an era where avant-garde stores are constantly cropping up and some are finding success. In Beijing, Hong Huang’s BNC and Ritchie Chan’s Triple-Major have become two examples of this. Where do Dong Liang’s competitive advantages lie?

CW: Our management chooses the types of products that are best suited for the Dong Liang name. Dong Liang aims for and provides tailored customer service with an emphasis on the personal aspects of customer care and communication.

JD: Can you give us a sense of your customer base?

CW: Our customers are mostly women, as our collections consist mostly of womenswear; however, we’re expanding our menswear collections. The general age range of our customers lies between 25-40, and our shoppers tend to be of adequate financial means and are fashion aficionados with distinctive personal styles.

JD: Although Chinese consumers are becoming more fashion-savvy, those with ample means are still comparatively rare. How does Dong Liang implement its brand concept into the hearts of its customers, particularly when the Chinese fashion industry is still in an early stage?

CW: Dong Liang specializes in a “Trial-and-Error fitting service”, which encourages shoppers to experiment with different shapes and styles to “find themselves”, style-wise. Those who use this service tend to be some of Dong Liang’s most loyal customers. Aside from that, we have also had a good deal of help from celebrity endorsements and digital marketing. We appreciate everyone’s involvement!

JD: Does Dong Liang use other sales channels aside from its brick-and-mortar business in Beijing? Do you have plans to expand into other areas, even second- or third-tier cities?

CW: Later this month, Dong Liang will open its Shanghai flagship at 184 Fu Min Road, Jing’an District. We’re currently in the midst of working on our online store, and are contemplating further expansion in mainland. Stay tuned.

 

Dong Liang exterior

JD: Almost all of Dong Liang’s designers are under the age of 30. What kinds of influence will these young designers and customers have on China’s fashion industry?

CW: Young designers will bring a new age of inspiration to Chinese design. In this new order, Chinese design will reborn from the ashes of the stale, stereotypical design of yesterday into a new body that embraces modernity and internationality. Only by achieving that rebirth can Chinese design gain mainstream attention and acquire international market share.

JD: You’ve mentioned in other interviews that Dong Liang provides certain market management services to its designers. Can you tell us a little about this type of service, and what direction you plan to take your consulting service in the future?

CW: What Dong Liang provides is an additional feedback service to our designers. While marketing and selling each designer’s collections, Dong Liang constantly monitors market reactions and demand, in order to make relevant suggestions about design, fabric, pricing, and quantity. So far, it’s been really successful among our designers. Also, Dong Liang supports media interviews and exhibitions for up-and-coming designers to help them maximize media coverage.

JD: Dong Liang has always been active in promoting itself via social media platforms like Douban and Sina Weibo. How else do you plan to promote yourselves?

CW: We aspire to sponsor more exhibitions and organize more events in the near future.


Visit Dong Liang at 26 Wudaoying Hutong 63A, Dongcheng District, Beijing (五道营胡同26号63A). The Jing Daily team would like to thank Charles Wang and the Dong Liang team for taking the time to speak with us.

 

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Culture, Fashion