THE LAST time you walked on South Molton Street you would have gone past The Hog in the Pound, a not especially enticing-looking pub that sat at the top of the famous road where it meets with Oxford Street. Walk there today and it looks completely different. Let’s just say it’s had an upgrade; £25m worth of an upgrade to be precise, and it’s all thanks to Bosideng.
You’ll be forgiven for not recognising the name. The Chinese retailer is relatively unknown outside of China but there, it’s a giant with 36 per cent of the market share and 10,000 retail outlets. And just to put that into perspective, as of 2012, Marks & Spencer had 1,010 international stores so in comparison: that’s not too shabby for a brand that you’ve probably never heard of.
The new store is a pretty big deal. It the brand’s first overseas flagship, something that will quickly change as it already has a string of stores planned for Europe and America, but more than anything, it’s interesting to see a Chinese retailer look overseas, especially as most luxury retailers continue to set their sights on China as the cure of all their financial woes.
The pieces available in London are completely different from its usual offering of classic down jackets. British menswear designers Nick Holland and Ash Gangotra have been brought on board with “full creative control” to design under the Bosideng London branch of the brand. “A lot of Chinese brands want to get that European look but have been doing it all wrong so I think it was important for them to have British designers to bring an authentic British style but with a Chinese twist,” he told City A.M. And that’s where the big plan comes in. Rather than simply attempting to tap into the consciousness of British men, the move is very much part of a wider strategy to tap into the Chinese middle class, taken by a “made in Britain” label and quintessentially English design.
And it works. The quality is impressive. Most of the clothes come from specialised factories in England and all of the shoes are made in collaboration with Cheaney, the shoemaker owned by the family originally behind Church’s. And that’s its unique selling point. The 500-piece line wouldn’t look out of place on Jermyn Street or any high-end menswear store. And here’s the best bit – the prices are really affordable. A cashmere jumper, for example, won’t cost you more than £200 and its signature jackets will set you back a respectable £160. “It’s all about creating luxury pieces that are accessible,” Holland explained, and whether or not you’re completely convinced by the strategy, there’s no doubt that the clothes do what they say on the tin. And what else does anybody need?
What to expect in store
Down blazer, £225
The down jacket is what Bosideng is known for and this is one of its new styles
Epsom coat, £375
Expect several quintessentially English pieces like this tweed coat
Polo Knit, £95
Bosideng’s take on the wardrobe staple comes in merino wool
Double breasted suit, £500
Tailoring is a big part of the brand’s offering so expect many easy suits like this one