American Apparel has finally opened its first store in Hong Kong. Shoppers had been teased with a Lane Crawford pop-up shop three years ago, and a local web store that the brand followed up with last year. But this store - a partnership with lifestyle retailer Lab Concept - is its first official boutique in the city.
The US-based retailer, known for its sweatshop-free cotton basics and racy advertising campaigns, is already well-established across the border, where it opened its first store on the mainland in 2008. To date it has four boutiques in Shanghai and Beijing.
"Hong Kong always has been an important city to us [but], that being said, this isn't the first time we've done something that is considered contrarian," says chief executive Dov Charney. "Ten years ago people were saying we had to be in Hong Kong to break into [mainland] China, but there's an industry-wide consensus that this is not the case any more. Our year-on-year growth in China is very strong … now we're excited to bring that energy to Hong Kong in an effort to set a new benchmark for our stores in Asia."
The new 1,500 square foot boutique is located in LAB Concept in Queensway Plaza and will stock a wide selection of the brand's basics, as well as more edgy pieces tailored to fit the Asian market. The merchandise was hand-picked by the company's Tokyo-based buyers, who have their fingers on the pulse when it comes to regional tastes.
Highlights include colour block and printed high-waisted denim shorts and underwired bodysuits. What else should we look out for?
"We are loving the unisex tennis shoes, cotton tops in pastel colours and the colour-block T-shirts," say creative directors Iris Alonzo and Marsha Brady. "The list can go on and on, but those are a few we can't live without this season."
Charney says there are plans to open a free-standing boutique in Hong Kong next year, while taking the brand into other Asian countries, including Thailand and Singapore.
"There's a sector of the market that appreciates our branding strategy, that loves 'Made in the USA', and values our emphasis on classic design, as well as our human rights commitment. We're excited to learn and grow," he says.