That fashion is looking to conquer the Asian market is hardly news, but a cultural exchange of sorts – as Hong Kong conglomerate I.T takes over London department store Selfridges – is the first of its kind.
Although most Brits will not have heard of I.T, rest assured it is a big deal. Founded in 1998, today the group’s in-house brands such as Mini Cream and fingercroxx are sold to cool young customers through standalone stores, and it also operates luxury labels like Commes des Garçons, Maison Martin Margiela and Gareth Pugh in Asia.
From tomorrow, seven of the organisation’s best-loved brands will make their debut on British soil in a takeover of the womenswear department of the famous store. “It’s been interesting to see the growing fascination in the industry with the ‘Asia phenomenon’,” says Judd Crane, head of womenswear, who became acquainted with I.T when he lived in Hong Kong. “It’s the most talked-about factor affecting retailers and we wanted to acknowledge that in an interesting way. Our hope is that this project engages the Asian community living here as well as exciting our UK customers to discover something new. We’re thinking of it as a kind of fashion exchange programme.”
“The Chinese market is incredibly fashion literate,” adds Crane. “Young people there are completely obsessed with energetic and diverse style and the product offer is largely bright, irreverent and experimental – it’s fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously.”
As part of the takeover, as well as importing the trend-driven fashion that the brands are renowned for Selfridges has commissioned the “selfie” project in which each of the seven brands was tasked with creating an exclusive product featuring the store’s signature Pantone 109 yellow and the phrase “selfie”, which is something of a phenomenon on social media.