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Shanghai Style: A Look at Local Designers

by THE BERGSTROM GROUP on August 10, 2010

Shanghai is dotted with malls full of foreign retail. A few popular brands have tried to 'localize’ themselves with little success; remember last year when Chanel branded with its Chinese name香奈儿? Netizens such as Antonia, 22, female, Shanghai, laughed at this “nonsense design, just trying to pander to Chinese customers.” While Chinese consumers early value name brands, part of the appeal seems to be their non-native status. On the other hand, there is a growing interest in domestic design amongst individualistic youth who are drawn to apparel based solely aesthetic.

Rouched pants from MAY.J and fitting room curtains at Gloss.  The curtains are made from sewn together pairs of Levi and Nudie jeans.

The boutique shop Gloss in Xintiandi, Shanghai, carries MAY.J, a line of men and women's clothing from a local designer. “This brand offers unique designs,” said the boutique manager Kiki. And customers are willing to pay: “Her products cost thousands of RMB, but are popular.” The MAY.J collection offers a wide variety of apparel from street style to Shanghai Qipao (traditional dresses), selling women’s clothing on the Bund and men’s clothing in Xintiandi.

Another local Shanghainese brand, Popigist, was created in December 2007. The t-shirts, notebooks, and other items feature colorful characters with one common trait – they all have pig noses! The brand’s message of freedom and cynicism is captured in the range of colors and personalities; everything can be trendy and everyone can be superstar - even if it’s a pig. Since the store opened at Tianzifang (an old Shanghainese lane full of trendy stores) two months ago, it has attracted a lot of young consumers, especially street culture lovers.

Jason (22, male, Shanghai) told us, “I am a big fan of locally designed urban brands. I shop at lots of those stores on Changle Road, and I’m surprised to see Popigist at Tianzifang. The design is great. I have never seen so many characters on one T-shirt.”

“I have been here once and now I'm taking my friends here,” said Vivian (24, female, Shanghai). “We all like its best seller – a T-shirt with 81 different characters with pig noses. They are so cute! I have found Superman, Spiderman, Popeye, Yao Ming, Winnie, McDonald’s, Monkey King, Astroboy and so many more!”
The Bergstrom Group is an insights consultancy with a passion for telling the story of new China.
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