Following a resent research trip to Shanghai, Seymourpowell design researcher Sonia Wang reveals some insights into two noteworthy brands.
You might have seen Orlando Bloom sporting Feiyue trainers, or spotted them in the opening sequences of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but the original Chinese workman shoe has been a household name in Shanghai since the 1920s. It is now a much-loved brand of the local hipsters.
On a recent trip to Shanghai we visited their shop on Dongpeng Road in the Xuhui district. A poster by the entrance says, “Heart of Shanghai, Made in China”. This added to our original interest in visiting the store – we wanted to explore today’s ‘Made-in-China’ stories.
Inside the shop, shoe boxes are stacked up high on both sides. No need for fancy decorations, this tiny place is honest and unpretentious – it has the kind of ‘straight-out-of the factory’ rawness and authenticity that is very appealing. Also the ‘packaging’ is very basic – once purchased your trainers are wrapped in a simple brown paper bag.
The small store, tucked away beneath a staircase and easily missed (together with the ridiculously cheap merchandise) make it feel like a well-kept secret. But with the growing interest in local products of China’s youth the brand looks set to have a bright future.
Cha Gang 茶缸店
Cha Gang is a high-end menswear label owned by local designer Wang Yiyang and his partner Zhou Xia. (The name Cha Gang means ‘tea container’ in Chinese.) Set in a quiet back yard, the boutique is housed on the ground floor of an old Shanghai building, located on Yongfu Road in the trendy French Concession.
The store has a very relaxed atmosphere, standing in sharp contrast to some of the mainstream stores in the nearby neighborhood.
The collection echoes a sense of Chinese sartorial heritage through various details such as subdued colours, cropped cuts and collars. Cha Gang’s overriding concept is that clothes should be like a tea container – ‘the form can be free, the material can be changed, and what’s inside can differ but the relationship is always the same’.
Although much more premium than Feiyue, Cha Gang is another great example of a ‘Made in China’ brand in that it is not trying to copy Western brands, but rather establishing its own identity.
Seymourpowell’s team regularly conduct cross-cultural city visits to help our clients understand regional preferences, diversity and to identify common global preferences. For more information contact the Seymourpowell PR Team.