2012 Mar 22 California Dreaming: Hollister Debuts in Beijing
“What’s up!” hollered a young man wearing flip-flops and a blindingly white smile.
Beijing’s first Hollister temporarily lulls you into forgetting you’re in China. The local staff addresses you in English. The storefront is not made up of display windows, but rather TV screens playing nonstop footage of bronzed youth frolicking in the waves.
Dim lighting and dark woods juxtaposed with teeny-tiny colorful clothing is a sexy combination. That, and the shirtless men (“lifeguards” flown in from all over the world) posing outside the store for a few hours a day, for the sole purpose of driving traffic.
In typical fashion, the store employees embody the all-American prototype of “hotness” – tall, muscular and tan. Only in this case, they’re all Chinese.
Other than that, Hollister has stuck closely to its original brand image, making few concessions for the Asian market. Unlike Gap, which created entirely new ad campaigns featuring local celebrities, this Abercrombie & Fitch offshoot label intends to capitalize on its Californian roots.
So far it seems to be a package that works. Hordes of fresh-faced shoppers mill in and out of Hollister, looking like they’re having a heck of a time. (Meanwhile, the surrounding stores – including Uniqlo, H&M and Ochirly – stand mostly empty.)
The surplus of XS sizes, designed especially for young teens in the US, will suit the local population here equally well. Yet bigger men and women can rest assured, too – the Chinese mainland branches stock the same range of sizes as the ones in the US.
Prices have been adjusted slightly, as with all foreign retailers. The ubiquitous skin-tight tank top costs RMB 190, while collared shirts start from RMB 500. Miniskirts are as mini as they go – same with the bikini tops and the “athletic” shorts. A simple tee emblazoned with the words “lifeguard” or “Malibu” is RMB 220.
SoCal “glamour” doesn’t come cheap, after all – even if it does consist mainly of sandals, sweatpants and beachwear.
Indulge in: Schoolboy cardigan (RMB 500)
Also try: Gap, Forever 21
Daily 10am-9.30pm. Shop L120, Galleria Shopping Center, 5 Shuguangxili Lu (northeast of Sanyuan Qiao), Chaoyang District (5638 3006)