The cities of New York, London, Milan and Paris may have made headlines during the series of international fashion weeks last month, but this morning (Friday 18 March, 2016) it was the turn of Hong Kong to take centre stage with its very own fashion first.
Trend followers and even passers-by stood waiting for the new Victoria Beckham retail concession to throw open its doors. The arrival of brand Beckham with a physical retail space has caused quite a stir around the city. Located centrally on the second floor of Landmark Atrium building (Mandarin Oriental) – Hong Kong’s luxury shopping destination – it’s once again been designed by London-based architect Farshid Moussavi, the woman behind the brand’s five existing concession spaces.
Luckily for me, I’m in Hong Kong on business this week and so I took the opportunity to attend the official store opening.
The shop is located between Harvey Nichols and Paul Smith. It's a discreetly located boutique mall with a few high-profile international brands, including Tod's, Dior, Louis Vuitton etc. Its not the best retail space. Getting here is via a complex maze of walkways, ramps and steps - even Google maps gets in a tizz! It's also not the most frequently visited mall either, but the high worth consumers who frequent this area will no doubt value another new 'name' to shop in. However, the cost of being in this location will no doubt be massive and this brand will have to pay its way to keep its spot.
As a corner location, this is one of its best attributes and has two prominent sides with signage above. However, unlike the recent publicity shots for the store that show Victoria posing with a mannequin, the shop does not have any such window displays - instead simply using the glass line for clothes rails.
The interior look is a luxe mix of urban (concrete and black) and luxury finishes (mirror and gold). Suspended gold finished boutique rails in a chunky zig zag design are used for clothing collections with a side hanging presentation. The collections form compact stories within each area, presented with minimum density for a premium quality look.
A monolithic grey concrete slab doubles as a platform table for accessories collections with integrated seating at one end. These include handbags and leather goods set out with informal grouping - and like the goods in the rest of the store, without prices.
Intense, bright white spot lights are set within a mirrored ceiling; it's a clever trick which helps to increase the illusion of scale and make the cramped space feel more open. The overall look is not radically new, and many of its elements have been used before (Sass and Bide, Australia, and Jigsaw UK among others).
As a shop, it's very nice, but apart from the name outside there is no sense of a 'brand' - this could be a nice 'designer store' from anyone and anywhere. Perhaps that's what lets this store down. Judging by comments from the hoards of queuing fans waiting for the store to open, by all accounts many adore Victoria; be that for her pop past, petite figure, her children and famous footie husband.
However, none of this character comes through in store. It's just a smart shop with a luxury feel, but without warmth or personality. It's showy, uptight and trying very hard to be chic. In that, perhaps it communicates the Victoria Beckham brand very well indeed.