Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Comin' Up! Abercrombie & Fitch in Shanghai...

The Oriental Pearl Tower is icon to Shanghai as le Tour Eiffel is to Paris.  |  (image source)
With its next greatest step on the masterpiece Pearl of the Orient, the Abercrombie & Fitch brand is to fixate on triumph for its inherent manifest destiny throughout mainland China (中国大陆). Shanghai (上海), in privileged possession of an exceptional flair of ostentatious aspirations, is from which Abercrombie & Fitch will come to more intimately entice the mainland with the upscale brand’s exceptional character of youth, energy, and reputation. Of supreme significance shall be this upcoming A&F Shanghai flagship as prime jewel in furthering Abercrombie & Fitch’s prospects in the Middle Kingdom... Oh, how the development of the future rings pure like falling pearls of jade on china.

Being exemplar and showpiece of the roaring rise of China (中国), Shanghai is an awe-inspiring global city fueled by an ambitious intensification for a tomorrow greater than the yesterday. As one of four province-level municipalities (直辖市) of the People’s Republic of China (中华人民共和国), the metropolis holds direct ties to the central government and was initially chosen to be the epicenter of mainland Chinese economic reform. Incidentally, Shanghai finds itself geographically near mid-way between Beijing (北京) and Hong Kong (香港); and the city sits on the delta of the Yangtze River (长江) which has been historically vital to the cultural and economic development of China. Such exceptional elements, among many others, have made Shanghai – once dubbed the “Paris of the East” – now a force energized by 23+ million residents, an influx of tourism, and heavy international investment.

Fittingly, Shanghai’s leadership in culture and economic activity has cultivated an aspirational ambiance thriving with high-end commercialism and consumption. For mainland Chinese consumers, the city is the Chinese destination of choice, only behind Hong Kong, for splurging on desired goods. Furthermore, Shanghai is mainland China’s leading fashion capital and is fourth overall in Asia – ranking only behind Hong Kong, Singapore, and Tokyo in the Global Language Monitor’s 2012 report. (Abercrombie & Fitch opened a flagship store in each of those cities in reverse order – Tokyo (2009), Singapore (2011), Hong Kong (2012) – so the fact that Shanghai came after those three on the GLM 2012 rankings is amusingly coincidental). And the importance of Shanghai, in terms of furthering relationships between brand and consumer, is incontrovertible: its sophistication as fashion mecca increments annually with the goal of positioning Shanghai among New York, London, Paris, and Milan in the near future. For nothing is Shanghai home to the grandest of international brands’ flagships in China, and the host of key events engaging top celebrities and the attention of the people – among the most memorable being Chanel’s unforgettable Métiers d'Art Paris-Shanghai fashion show and exhibitions (2009); the Louis Vuitton Express: Paris to Shanghai (2012); and Dior’s first haute-couture presentation for China (2012). In fact, Dior will be presenting again in Shanghai this April (something it seems to be making into an annual tradition), and this is a reflection of international brands’ awareness of the importance of catering to, and engaging closely with, Chinese consumers. Making the fashion capital the epicenter of such endeavors assures the propagation of interest, for a brand, throughout mainland China via word-of-mouth and media forms (among which of high value is China’s greatest social media platform, Sina Weibo). In the case of Abercrombie & Fitch, this is paramount for A&F brand awareness which is, to say, rather modest in mainland China. Active, engaging presence in Shanghai assures, for a successful reputable retailer, another firm step from which to grow throughout the mainland henceforth.

So where in Shanghai will Abercrombie & Fitch settle in among the future? The purveyor of Casual Luxury will show off its FIERCE wares within its upcoming all-new flagship as a part of the recently completed, upscale Jing An Kerry Centre (静安嘉里中心) large-scale mix-use development. Designed by internationally renowned architectural firm Kohn Pedersen Fox, and developed by Shanghai Ji Xiang Properties Co., Ltd (a subsidiary of the Hong Kong-based Kerry Properties Limited (嘉里建设有限公司) company), the Jing An Kerry Centre is the first fully-integrated development in the Jing’an district (静安区) of Shanghai. Its design intelligently implements environmentally sensible elements which have garnered it the LEED Gold Pre-certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. With an overall size of 3.8 million square feet (360,000 square meters), the Jing An Kerry Centre has been strategically set up to offer premium offerings in retail, residence, hotel (Jing An Shangri-La), and office space as well as parking. In more specific relevance, the Centre’s plans figure about 42% of its retail operations to comprise of fashion. Ultimately, its overall primary catchment group has been defined to include “professionals, [the] white collar, trend setters, upscale residents, business travelers, [and] high-end tourists in Jing An district; young, worldly, fashion forward with an appreciation for art and culture”; its secondary catchment as “from surrounding districts such as Huangpu, Xuhui, and Changning; and tertiary from “other districts and regions.”

As a notable part of the latest and most exceptional luxury development in the bustling Jing’an district, the Abercrombie & Fitch Shanghai flagship will be advantageously situated to showcase its iconic appeal. The choice of placement for A&F Shanghai is centrally found on the district’s main high-end shopping thoroughfare, the swanky Nanjing West Road (南京西路). Lined with the city’s most luxurious shopping malls, Nanjing West Road, as its name hints, is the western portion of the greater Nanjing Road (南京路) – one of the busiest shopping streets on the planet, and stemming perpendicularly from the Bund (外滩). Due to their shared cultural and commercial worth within their respective cultures, the committee for the development of the historic Nanjing Road holds international agreements with the respective body for the famed Avenue des Champs-Elysees in Paris. Of further notability, on Nanjing West Road, is also the historical Jing’an Temple (静安寺) from which the district took its name. Furthermore, nearby, and on opposite ends of Nanjing West Road, are the People’s Park (人民公园) (which includes the Shanghai Art Museum (上海美术馆) and Grand Theater (上海大剧院)) and the Shanghai Exhibition Center (上海展览中心). In essence, this area of the Jing’an district is a key hotspot of culture, business, and consumerism found at the core of Shanghai’s historic center, Puxi (浦西), on the left bank of the Huangpu River (黄浦江).

The realization of Abercrombie & Fitch in Shanghai continues particular elements unique to A&F’s operations in Asia. Principally, work includes the development of a wholly new structure instead of majorly comprising of only exterior renovations and interior design of a previously established building (as has been the case in the European market). A&F Ginza (Tokyo), A&F Fukuoka (no longer a flagship), and A&F Singapore were structurally developed all-new; and A&F Hong Kong with the Pedder Building has been the only exception. More interestingly, however, A&F Shanghai parallels A&F Singapore in the way that it will be a part of a greater, modern, upscale commercial complex with direct-to-street access. Of course, one is inclined to assume that the A&F Shanghai flagship will have direct-to-street access which may well be via the open grounds on the Centre complex. The ground floor plans are not so much elaborate as to only signify a designated area, bordered by Nanjing West Road and Changede Road, with a concentration of “creative luxury / high energy fashion.” A&F Shanghai will incorporate all-around new, modern, sophisticated elements at play alongside with the heritage of the Abercrombie & Fitch brand.

Of the iconic likes of Abercrombie & Fitch, there is no other; and from its privileged presence in Shanghai, A&F will intimately present, to the eager mainland Chinese consumer, the signature A&F Experience revered around the world. The excitement – the leading-up promo activities and the great opening day, of course! – is planned to occur sometime in the Spring 2014 season for Saturday, April 19. The Company has previously stated that the inauguration of Abercrombie & Fitch in Shanghai will be its last international opening, for the A&F brand, for the time being. As time develops, this may change. Either way, we have this explosively thrilling flagship store opening to look forward to! Abercrombie & Fitch in Shanghai...the future arrives.


P.S. DISCOVER MORE all about A&F上海 (here)!

A&F Shanghai in relation to existing Abercrombie & Fitch flagships in Asia.
Image by Google Earth used for illustrative purposes only.


(  R  E  A  D     O  P  E  N  I  N  G     D  A  Y     R  E  P  O  R  T  )  !

UPDATE (19 APRIL 2014): A&F Shanghai is now open! Read the exclusive opening day report you will only find at #THEHOTTESTBLOG, (here)!

UPDATE (22 FEBRUARY 2014): The opening for A&F Shanghai has yet again been readjusted, this now set for SATURDAY, APRIL 19. This post has been revised to reflect this change.

UPDATE (AUGUST 2013): The opening of A&F Shanghai has been pushed back, from Christmas 2013, to Spring 2014. The push-back merely happened in accordance to timing-completion changes of the greater Jing An Kerry Centre development project. This post has been revised to reflect this change in the anticipated opening.