Asia's largest shoe department opens in Hong Kong
Lane Crawford, Hong Kong purveyor of all things designer, reopened its Canton Road store this week -- and it is much bigger and much better than before.
The revamp was done with high-rolling mainlanders in mind. The store's location is on Tsim Sha Tsui's prime strip of luxury goods boutiques where brand name-hungry Chinese shoppers from the mainland spree en masse.
At over 9,290 square meters, the new Lane Crawford is the group's largest store yet. A four-story shrine to luxury consumerism and superior taste, every so-hot-right-now designer label for women and men is available, as well as high-end cosmetics, home and lifestyle products.
"This new space sets the standard for the new Lane Crawford model," says Andrew Keith, president of Lane Crawford.
"It is the minimum size we now require."
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Some of the labels available in the Lane Crawford on Canton Road have recorded their highest global sales records at the store.
Visitors from mainland China account for 67 percent of the city's tourists and are the biggest group of spenders, says James Tien, chairman of the Hong Kong Tourism Board. Many of them spend their money on Canton Road or in Causeway Bay.
Hong Kong retail sales surged 26 percent to HK$264 billion in August, mostly boosted by mainland Chinese tourists.
China's luxury goods tax means paying an extra 10-30 percent when buying brand name handbags within the country. As a result, Chinese shoppers rarely do their shopping at home. More than 50 percent of luxury purchases by Chinese shoppers in 2010 were made overseas, according to Bain & Co.
Hong Kong is a Chinese territory exempt from this tax, making it a convenient place for mainland Chinese to do much of their luxury shopping.
Chinese authorities were said to have proposed cutting back the luxury tariffs last June, when China Daily quoted Ministry of Commerce spokesperson Yao Jian as saying the reductions are just "a matter of time."
So far the tax cut proposal has faced political hurdles and retail giants like Lane Crawford are unperturbed by the prospect.
President of Lane Crawford Jennifer Woo wants the retail experience at her stores to be sensual and unique, rather than a means to an end.
"This is a store where art, fashion, music, everything really comes together," Woo told CNN.
Peter Harris, president of Lane Crawford's sister company echoes Wu when speaking about The Shoe Library, a section of the new store.
"Each area of [The Shoe Library] is unique, creating a journey for the customer, punctuated with surprises."
The Lane Crawford on Canton Road creates a sense of spaciousness with double glass ceilings and displays of goods on sculptural shelves. It's slick, trendy and somehow majestic without being too intimidating.
It's hard to imagine that Hong Kong's longest-standing international retailer first opened in 1850 as a ships' chandler on the Des Voeux Road waterfront.
The new store includes The Shoe Library, which Lane Crawford claims to be Asia's largest women's shoes and accessories department.
Occupying the entire 2,323-square-meter ground floor, The Shoe Library was designed by Andre Fu and is like a gigantic walk-in closet for a shoe and accessories-crazy lady with impeccable taste.
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More than 200 brands are represented, from contemporary designers to household names like Yves Saint Laurent and Manolo Blahnik.
Stiletto masters are given a section of their own -- Christian Louboutin and Jimmy Choo creations can be found in The Salon.
The Shoe Library also offers the only Ralph Lauren Bespoke Program outside the United States where customers can have their initials monogrammed on crocodile leather boots and men's tailored shoes.
Also launched is a new concept called lab by Lane Crawford for showcasing contemporary fashion and a relatively more modest price range (which at Lane Crawford means a three-figure U.S. dollar price tag).
Regularly rotating their displays, the lab will feature 60 international designers in Lane Crawford locations across Hong Kong and China.
To coincide with the new store's opening, Lane Crawford has also launched its online store at www.lanecrawford.com.
Time Square's Lane Crawford space will be increased soon and additional stores will launch in Shanghai, Beijing and Chengdu.
Lane Crawford Canton Road
Open daily, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
3 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, +852 2118 3428