Saturday, August 11, 2012

FIERCE EUPHORIA! Abercrombie & Fitch Hong Kong Flagship has Opened its Historic Doors...

Stoked fans crowd the opulent interior of A&F Hong Kong!  |  (image source)
Amid the bustle of Hong Kong, there interwove a charged atmosphere of heightened emotion for the arrival of a much anticipated, landmark event. Oft repeated has been the term "historic" as an adjective to the impending moment in time. And on August 11...that time arrived. In the presence of an overwhelming multitude of peoples, Abercrombie & Fitch proudly swung doors to its first ever flagship store in China as a monument to its future in the Middle Kingdom! Henceforth, a new chapter begins, of the globally iconic all-American force, on territory as aspirational as its glorious ambitions of greatness...

How fitting it is for it to have been Hong Kong as the privileged city with the honor of being the setting to this endeavor! Energized by the pulsing rhythm of 7 million souls, the "fragrant harbour," as is the literal meaning of its Chinese name 香港, is renown for its offerings of the finest for the seeker of the exemplary. Situated within the mind of the Chinese consumer as the ideal place to shop, given its international flair and high status, within the nation's market, Hong Kong also brings high assurance of authenticity and quality key to the consuming habits of the upscale Chinese shopper. May a brand find reputable success in Hong Kong, its performance in the mainland is highly probable. And considering that China is already highly influential, on a global scale,  within the fields of international luxury retailing, and projected to become the world's foremost consumer of luxury goods by 2015, the establishment of solid foundations, and the raising of awareness within the Chinese market, is of the utmost importance. Hong Kong is but the cornerstone to said foundations of A&F's aspirations.

Principle to Abercrombie's positioning in China was the acquisition of an iconic structure worthy of housing history! ...Ladies and gentlemen, the Pedder Building! Constructed by 1924 in the neo-Classical design of Palmer and Turner Architects, the significant Grade II structure stands amid the 21st century dynamism as a special piece of colonial Hong Kong. Abercrombie's triumphant win, in an intense bidding war against the Compaigne Financière Richemont's high-end Shanghai Tang Chinese-fashion retailer, made headlines by April 2011, in the industry and retail media, as a sign of the escalating commercial rents in Hong Kong. Much has been said of A&F's high agreed rent of HK$7 million (or about US$902,602) which was used as an example along with Burberry's $6.5 million (about US $836,600)... News of firms usurping other firms in agreements over rent has been a notable occurrence lately in Hong Kong; it is all for securing prime retail space in the dense Island of Hong Kong.

But the news was out that Abercrombie & Fitch was finally arriving in China via Hong Kong and fans couldn't have been more stoked! As typical in the face of an imminent A&F Flagship opening, the anticipation began building up to full force and work in the realization of this vision began. If anything other than abs, Abercrombie should be acknowledged for its exemplar renovating of historic and culturally noteworthy buildings as it implements the A&F Flagship prototype customized for the unique setting at hand. The FIERCE Abercrombie & Fitch ad, renown the world over for its usage as imagery announcing the coming of an A&F location, was already in place by January 2012. Mounted on the right-hand side of the Pedder Building, and magnificently illuminated by the fall of day, it was a stunning sight! Casting for the hottest models soon of which was even recruited while clubbing at the Lan Kwai Fong area quite known for its nightlife!

At A&F Flagships around the world, epicenters of privileged youth and cool, the A&F team began selecting some of its hottest male models to fly in to help make history. In all, 110 sculpted boys of admirable flesh and face arrived by late-July/early-August...though not all of them flew in at once, mind you! "You do not want all of us in a pressurized container. Oh no!" exclaimed one of the guys, Trey. Accommodated at the five-star W Hong Kong hotel in Kowloon, the guys had the chance to hang out at the rooftop pool, at HK Disneyland, and everywhere in between! THE HOTTEST GUYS, in their bright-red shorts, were unleashed upon Hong Kong on August 2 and took the city by storm...the 10 days of 'A&F Hot Guys' had begun! Great crowds would formulate at the foot of the Pedder Building and sprawl all over the immediate area. Some were even given a preview look at what lay beyond the doors inside. Soon enough, a branded double-decker bus – named the "A&F Bus" – roamed throughout the city with its load of guys cheering and waving to the gawking crowds of people...many who were quick to pull out a camera and snag a photo of the sight before their eyes!

And as August 11 dawned upon Hong Kong, and as the last few hours seeped on by, people began lining up before the rise of morning's sun. For near of a mile stretched out the designated barriers for the epic line which continued to flow on down the streets of Central from the bottom steps of the Pedder Building. Hundreds upon hundreds of peoples – over 5,000! – of various ages, continuously formed queue in the light of being among the privileged first to ever pass through the stately doors and experience the enthralling A&F environment on Chinese soil...hoards of people's anticipation at the precipice of euphoria. 11:00AM (HKT) came, but, alas, there would be an unexpected eight more minutes of wait time... At 11:08AM – with a roar of cheer and applause and a storm of innumerable flashing cameras! – the great doors finally swung forth; and with FIERCE in the air, the ultimate party began at the place where cool and Casual Luxury go hand in hand!

Those very fortunate first 50 fans in line received, as a gift, a copy of the Hong Kong 2012 limited-edition A&F Quarterly. Featuring the sensual, timeless photography of the globally renowned photographer Bruce Weber, for Abercrombie & Fitch, the exclusive hardcover photo book of 500 copies was published in honor of the inauguration of A&F in China...a rare art photography collectible, and presenting Abercrombie's iconic imagery, solely for A&F Hong Kong. The remaining copies were made available to esteemed customers with a purchase of HK$5,000+ (US$647+ / EUR€524+ / GB£415+) of A&F goods...

For all its wonder and monumental significance, A&F Hong Kong stands as a piece of A&F History. Such an incredible opening has not been seen since the inauguration of A&F Ginza in Tokyo, Japan, back in December 2009! As monumental as the Ginza flagship was as the arrival of Abercrombie & Fitch in the Asian the Hong Kong flagship introduces Abercrombie & Fitch to a rising global force!

August 11 was a beautiful day, indeed...

...And as always, stay FIERCE!