By Jing Daily
Established in Beijing three years ago with a singular focus on stocking and promoting the work of China’s up-and-coming designers,Dong Liang Studios (栋梁) – which has expanded from a tiny 20 square meter location in Wudaoying hutong to a second location in Shanghai and a third set to open this month in Beijing — has developed a reputation as a go-to boutique for fashion-forward Chinese and expats alike. Catering to growing demand for less mainstream designers and labels among the new generation of Chinese fashion lovers, Dong Liang is an important player in the emerging multi-brand boutique scene we’re seeing in China’s major cities.
Along with Beijing shops Triple-Major and Brand New China, and Shanghai compatriots Alter,Le Lutin, THE VILLA and The Olive Shoppe, Dong Liang is helping to take the Chinese fashion scene to the next level, offering fashion-forward urbanites the chance to get their hands on labels that would’ve been impossible to find anywhere near mainland China just a few years ago.
Recently, Jing Daily Shanghai correspondent Erica Ji caught up with Tasha at Dong Liang’s location on Fumin Lu (an emerging hotspot of cutting-edge Chinese design) to discuss the differences between the Shanghai and Beijing, some of her favorite home-grown Chinese designer brands, and the particularities of the local market. Interview translated from the original Mandarin Chinese.
Jing Daily (JD): Earlier, we were talking about how Dong Liang’s Beijing locations stock many Shanghai designers, while its Shanghai location stocks Beijing designers. Aside from the fact that Shanghainese customers are generally more westernized, what would you say sets Beijing and Shanghai apart?
Tasha (T): First off, the stores are different in terms of size and space. Our Beijing store in Wudaoying hutong is pretty small, so we can’t stock the same number of designers we can in Shanghai. I think the biggest difference between the cities, though, is that Shanghai is more mature. Shanghai consumers are more clear about what they want and don’t want. They’re more individualistic in terms of how they think. So it’s a bit harder to sell them something than it is when you’re dealing with a customer in Beijing, because you really have to convince them that the item has added value, that it’s something new and unique. Compared to the Beijing market, people in Shanghai pay more attention to materials and fit, and really prefer silk and fine fabrics.
Another difference is that our Shanghai store is more lively. Since our Beijing store is quite small, we can’t have a lot of crossover activities within the shop, but we’ve got a dedicated area for that in Shanghai. This month we’ll open our second store in Beijing, though, that’ll be about double the size of our first, so we should be able to hold some art exhibitions and try out some new concepts there.