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Interview: FEI Space

Fei Space is a great store that passes for a gallery hidden in plain sight. If you are not specifically looking for it, you will likely miss the sign on the white façade and not see the discreet entrance on the side. It is as if Fei Space was for the initiated only. Located smack in the middle of 798, the famous hub of Beijing’s contemporary art scene, it is the destination where fashion editors (including Vogue China’s EIC Angelika Cheung), artists and all manner of other style-makers to get a feel of where the trends are heading. Fei proposes an edgy mix of high fashion and high street with its unique perspective on international trends adapted to the Chinese market. With a second branch newly opened in Shanghai, Fei’s clever and pioneering fashion mix is spreading across China.

NAME OF THE EXECUTIVE INTERVIEWED: RAY P LEE
TITLE OF EXECUTIVE CO-FOUNDER
NAME OF STORE FEI SPACE
WEBSITE OF STORE WWW.FEILOOK.COM

Tell us about your store and what defines it?

Fei Space is a multidisciplinary concept space located in both Shanghai and Beijing—an old ammunition factory in Beijing’s 798 Art District, and a 3 tiered boutique space in Chengle Road in Shanghai—combining our shared passion for design that touch us: fashion, accessories, product and vintage furniture.FEI3

Who is your core customer?

Artists, designers, celebrities, fashion folk, creative people, design students—our style is a real mash-up with works from established designers to high street retail and special collaborations exclusive to us. Our clientele represents that diversity

Which brands do you stock?

We’re particularly hot on British designers this season—Hussein Chalayan, House of Holland, Victoria Beckham, Casley-Hayford, Edun, JP Braganza, Lulu at Fashion East, for example, and we also have an exclusive collaboration for Topshop and Topman in mainland China.

Does the local audience in China fully understand what you are trying to communicate?

It’s tougher as we don’t retail in a mall, which is how China shops. But increasingly, yes, there’s a more educated shopper out there that looks for a unique experience and product—and certainly having Topshop and Topman as our collaborators has drawn an audience to the concept of boutique retailing that would otherwise shop exclusively in a mall. There is a shift in retail and that’s reflected in the growing number of independent stores popping up all over the mainland.FEI5

What is your impression of local designers?

The real designers like Masha Ma and Qiu Hao are amazing. Easily sits with any international designer and in both cases actually do overseas. Otherwise you have the very big brands with 2000 stores all over China and that’s just a whole other direction which is largely commercial and manufactured of the masses with no creative or real identity to differentiate. And oddly enough, Beijing Fashion Week highlighted these very commercial brands rather that the real designers with a true original point of view. Better infrastructure of support is needed.

How is the business model in China different than in other countries?

Scale. It’s not unusual to have a Chinese brand with over 2000 stores all over China. Whereas in the West, if we have 50 stores we’re doing very well. Not here. Numbers are everything even at the sacrifice of diluting brand image. They really don’t care.FEI6

What is the greatest misconception about Chinese designers?
That they copy. But who doesn’t?



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