Ritchie Chan, the Xiamen-born, Beijing-based founder of hip design studio and fashion store Triple-Major, talks about living in Los Angeles and how Chinese customers are becoming increasingly sophisticated.
When did you decide to open your own multi-brand store? "When I was still a student in Los Angeles, Triple-Major was a creative studio. But all of that changed in 2009, when I went to Beijing for the first time and held an exhibition at the Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art. I noticed the enthusiasm the Chinese audience had for emerging designers and decided to open a multi-brand store in the city, carrying designers who were pretty much unknown to that market at that time."
You now have stores in Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu. How has the brand evolved? "Although our brand offering varies from season to season, we stick strictly to our criteria when it comes to brand selection. We focus mostly on unisex, relaxed and interesting designs with high-quality craftsmanship. We also try to rotate two to three brands every season, to give customers more choice."
Are Chinese customers receptive to indie brands? "The power of social media has made news more instant, so the Chinese audience is much more informed than ever before. Even if they haven't heard of the brands we stock, they are able to recognise the quality and depth of the designs we bring in."
What has been the biggest challenge in growing the brand? "Communication! Compared with most multi-brand companies, Triple-Major is small in terms of scale but comprehensive in scope. Now we have stores in three distinctly different parts of China with staff from diverse backgrounds. And what we do ranges widely, from retail and design to curation projects and distribution."
How did studying in LA affect your career? "Life in Los Angeles has widened my understanding of design. The diversity of the city and its people has allowed me to gain a deeper appreciation of different aesthetics, all of which have provided me with a robust foundation that helps when we are trying to improve our retail experience."