Space in Hong Kong is scarce and real estate prices are high.
flock to the upper floors of high-rises where rent is cheaper, young professionals
try to find bargain apartments in fringe areas and many bars shut down after a
year because they can't make enough to pay the bills. But it didn't seem likely
that Shanghai Tang, one of Asia's few homegrown luxury retailers,
would face the same kind of rent squeeze.
flagship store on Pedder Street, in the heart of Hong Kong’s downtown financial
district, was a two-story 1920s Art Deco space characterized by its colourful,
quirky details. Earlier this year, Abercrombie & Fitch outbid Shanghai Tang
for the coveted property when its lease was up, allegedly offering the
million Hong Kong dollars a month, or 250% more than what Shanghai Tang had
been paying. Forced out of a historic location – the brand’s first boutique, though
it now has more than 40 worldwide – Shanghai Tang turned to Asia's exiles of
ages past to come up with a stopgap solution.
spirit of Mongolian nomads, Shanghai Tang erected a cluster of Mongolian yurts,
called gers, atop the roof of Central Pier 4, which juts
out into Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour. It acts like a full-service store until 31
December, while another temporary loft-like location just upstairs from their shut-down
boutique on Pedder
Street will operate until 20 February. The new flagship will open its doors in
the spring of 2012, but the address has yet to be announced.
makeshift location, Shanghai Tang is not poverty-stricken -- it has seven other
outposts in Hong Kong, not to mention plenty of business
savvy and a powerful owner (the Richemont Group, a Swiss company that also controls
other high-end brands like Cartier, Van Cleef and Arpels, Piaget and Montblanc).
But the pop-up shop does have a rugged feel, because it's alfresco, and continues
to sell Shanghai Tang's pricey Chinese-style haute couture as well as provide
the label's well-respected bespoke tailoring services. The gers also house a
limited-edition collection of Mongolian-inspired products, like chunky jewellery,
fur-trimmed leather handbags, ornamented enamel picture frames, candles and housewares.