French Fashion is really a hot topic in China. We came to visit Madame Shanghai (No. 284 South Xiangyang Road, inside Shanghai French Concession) the other day during this hot summer in Shanghai. There iQubator team met Justine, the founder of Madame Shanghai, and also did the interview with her.
Entrance of the shop
iQubator: When did you start your business in Shanghai?
Justine:I arrived in Shanghai seven years ago. But first it was for my school, I was in a business school in France and I came to Shanghai for a two-year exchange program. For two years I was doing international management. I loved Shanghai so much so I decided to stay longer. I worked in foods and hospitality industries first, and then I went on to study Chinese. About two years ago I had the idea of opening this shop. In Shanghai there are many fast fashion chains such as H&M, Zara, but there aren’t many independent designers or smaller brands. Between the mass production fast fashion and the luxurious brands such as Louis Vuitton or Chanel, there is no middle ground. So I opened Madame Shanghai. All the brands I carry in my shop are quite famous in France. You see many French girls dressed in these brands. I wanted to introduce these brands to the Chinese market. The store was officially opened nine months ago.
iQubator: Why did you choose to start a career in Shanghai, China?
Justine: During my first two years of studying in Shanghai, I loved the city so much. When I first arrived, I was only 20 years old, so I feel like I have grown up here in this city. It’s my home now.
iQubator: Where do you find the brands and products?
Justine: When I decided to open the shop, I asked my friends in France to help me select the brands because I was in China for 5 years and I was not aware about the trends anymore! To buy the collections, I go to Paris twice a year, to meet directly with the brands at their showroom, or during fashion fairs.
iQubator: How do you think the brands in your store fit the Chinese market?
Justine: I’m still discovering and learning. When I first opened the shop, I got positive feedbacks from the customers. It’s really popular among the expat community because they know of the brands, and the Chinese customers started picking up and liking it more and more. The brands are French, young, new and colorful.
iQubator: What differences do you find between the foreign and the Chinese customers?
Justine: The Chinese customers are very interested in the quality, they always ask about the materials and the fabrics. They are also very interested in styling. For example, if they find a skirt that they like, they will ask me how they can find a top that goes with it. They are more picky, and they ask more questions. The foreigners are more independent, they don’t ask many questions normally.
iQubator: How do you explain your style?
Justine: I think my style is really French actually! Which means, it is really simple. I love confortable but fashionable clothes. Black is my favorite colors to wear, it is easy to match with everything. This summer, I love jumpsuit, they are really convenient when I don’t know what to wear in the morning!
iQubator: How is the sales going?
Justine: It’s getting better and better. In July it’s a bit slow because many people are on holiday.
iQubator: Through which channels do you promote your store?
Justine: For my foreign customer group, I mainly focus on Facebook and Instagram. And for the Chinese, I have two WeChat accounts. I have a personal account and an official account for my store. I would post articles and interesting sources about my store.
iQubator: Do you have promotions in the store?
Justine: I mainly organize events, and I have a rooftop terrace. Where I gather some friends and customers, and I offer wine onsite. I also participate in the designer market. I just participated one in The Cut last Sunday.
iQubator: What is your favorite piece in the store?
iQubator: If you were a color, what would it be and why?
Justine: My favorite color is actually pink… You can see that everything is pink around me, from my pens to my iPhone case! It must be my inner child speaking. I never dress in pink though!
iQubator: What is your soonest project coming up?
Justine: I’m hoping to start some sales and offer some discounts, get the sales going during the slow month.
iQubator: Have you thought of opening up another store or expanding into other cities?
Justine: At the moment, I want to focus on this one and maybe move to a more convenient location. But in the future, of course I expect growth and expansion.