Fashion Review: Shanghai Tang

Last week I had to write a brand story on Shanghai Tang so I decided to drop by their flagship store on Duddell Street (Central), a few blocks down the road from my office.

The whole theme of the brand is – if you haven’t already guessed – nostalgia for the ‘golden days’ of Shanghai during the 1920s/30s when it was called ‘The Paris of the East’.

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the dress I chose – Shanghai Tang specializes in body-hugging one-piece cheongsams (qipaos)

I came with L (my editor) to the shop, and we played the mystery shopper card, conducting the anonymity test which the Shanghai Tang employees barely passed. Out of all the sections, of course I made a beeline for the Imperial Tailoring wing. Other bloggers and journalists (I’ve scanned a few other write-ups on the brand) mostly wanted to try on the modern and ready-to-wear styles, but I like my dramatic garb given the chance (why go for normal when you can have the red-carpet-worthy?)… and Shanghai Tang has their fair share of this on the racks at the special section.

"The Rite of the Phoenix" Spring/ Summer 2012 Campaign

from ‘The Rite of the Phoenix’ Spring Summer 2012 Campaign – now that dress is what I am talking about

I’m no expert, but I would say Shanghai Tang falls under mid-range-priced designer labels (think Longchamps and Furla), given its retail/RTW prices are mostly under HK$10,000. My verdict is that this is quite reasonable considering the quality you get. At least you don’t spend months justifying the purchase of a single item in your head… and failing.

Our store experience

The staff were nice enough, yes, when we asked to try on the gowns. They were encouraging but note that this was only after we came up to them and asked them about fitting some pieces). This was a stark contrast to James’s treatment – when he dropped by (his office is right across the street), he was immediately surrounded, offered a drink, and attended to (bordering fussed over)… think it’s because he looks  every inch the typical work-suit-sporting British broker with a nice watch?

IMG_6603 copy

this was my celebratory ‘2 years in Hong Kong’ profile picture on FB

Campaigns and inspirations

As I was going through their press kit, the folders that got me absorbed were those from Shanghai Tang’s campaigns. Each season is inspired by a Chinese place or minority tribe, which I think is absolutely wonderful – a great way to capitalize on China’s rich culture and history. One example is their “Miao Hinterland” Collection for Fall 2003:

The geometric decoration of this Merino wool dress is based on a traditional tribal medallion that has been worn by ethnic tribes in China’s Hunan province for generations.

Probably the most iconic of their campaigns: From China with Love Autumn Winter 2011

"From China with Love" Autumn/ Winter 2011 Campaign "From China with Love" Autumn/ Winter 2011 Campaign "From China with Love" Autumn/ Winter 2011 Campaign "From China with Love" Autumn/ Winter 2011 Campaign "From China with Love" Autumn/ Winter 2011 Campaign "From China with Love" Autumn/ Winter 2011 Campaign "From China with Love" Autumn/ Winter 2011 Campaign

The Rite of the Phoenix S/S 2012 Campaign:

"The Rite of the Phoenix" Spring/ Summer 2012 Campaign "The Rite of the Phoenix" Spring/ Summer 2012 Campaign "The Rite of the Phoenix" Spring/ Summer 2012 Campaign "The Rite of the Phoenix" Spring/ Summer 2012 Campaign "The Rite of the Phoenix" Spring/ Summer 2012 Campaign "The Rite of the Phoenix" Spring/ Summer 2012 Campaign "The Rite of the Phoenix" Spring/ Summer 2012 Campaign

SHANGHAI TANG S/S 2013 CAMPAIGN: (is it just me or are their visuals getting darker and darker with every passing season? I mean, compare the ones from 2011 to the 2013 photos… I prefer the former.)

SHANGHAI TANG SPRING/ SUMMER 2013 CAMPAIGN SHANGHAI TANG SPRING/ SUMMER 2013 CAMPAIGN SHANGHAI TANG SPRING/ SUMMER 2013 CAMPAIGN SHANGHAI TANG SPRING/ SUMMER 2013 CAMPAIGN

Their latest: A/W 2013 campaign shot in Folies Bergere in Paris

Shanghai Tang Autumn Winter 2013 Campaign Shanghai Tang Autumn Winter 2013 Campaign Shanghai Tang Autumn Winter 2013 Campaign Shanghai Tang Autumn Winter 2013 Campaign

And finally, a few interesting facts I gathered in the writing of the article:

  • Shanghai Tang began as a custom-tailoring service in Hong Kong, leveraging on the talent of Shanghainese tailors who fled the city during the communist revolution of 1949.
  • Before the revolution, cheongsams or qipaos (like the dress I’m wearing above) were popular with high society. Members of the latter fled to Hong Kong in the late 40’s and brought the fashion here, which explains the costume design for films like In the Mood for Love by Wong kar-wai, set in 1960’s Hong Kong.
  • ‘Sir’ David Tang is the British-educated Hong Kongese businessman behind Shanghai Tang. His grandfather founded the Kowloon bus company and became one of Hong Kong’s greatest philanthropists, according to The Sunday times.
  • Shanghai Tang sponsored the costume design for the 2010 American star-studded film ‘Shanghai’ with Gong Li, John Cusack, Ken Watanabe, and Chow Yun-fat

julienne

 

 

Shanghai Tang Mansion

1 Duddell Street, Central
Tel: +852 2525 7333

Opening Hours: Mon to Sun 10.30am – 8.00pm (including public holidays)

 

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