Shanghai already counts one millionaire in every 175 people, and a new plan to expand the city's free-trade zone will boost investment and reinforce its identity as one of the biggest trade hubs in China. Thanks to its recent surge, Shanghai—sometimes referred to as the Paris of the East—has become an ideal playground for international architects. Nanjing West Road, a pedestrian mall in the heart of the city, has become one of the first luxury destinations in mainland China—not long after a time when the idea of a boom in that industry was still wishful thinking for the developing country. On the wave of this shift among luxury consumers, Milan retail maven Carla Sozzani's brand 10 Corso Como (10CC) recently landed in Shanghai with a new multifunctional space.
A dynamic metropolis, Shanghai is extremely receptive to external input and is always ready to metabolize new concepts and ideas. The meaning of wealth itself has changed—consumers are progressively shifting from being status-driven to valuing personal style. From the culture of high-end corporate gifts, the emerging key values for big spenders are uniqueness, craftsmanship and supporting brands that can reveal their story and guide customers through a new lifestyle experience.
In partnership with Trendy International Group, 10 Corso Como Shanghai has unsurprisingly found its location on Nanjing West Road. The newly-opened concept store is a 2,500 square meter freestanding structure consisting of four floors, all designed by American artist Kris Ruhs, in accordance to the standards of ancient Feng Shui. The ground floor hosts a multipurpose area dedicated to a slow-shopping concept—housing cosmetics, special design products, a bookshop and a pastry shop. Men's and women's clothing are on the second and third floor, matched with an area for tailoring services and a selection of jewelry. As a final treat, the fifth floor is home to the restaurant led by Michelin starred chef Corrado Michelazzo, as well as an art gallery. As for the fourth floor, the word "four" sounds like "death" in Chinese, so the inauspicious number is skipped much like the West traditionally avoids a 13th floor.
From big brands like Fendi and Lanvin to Martin Margiela and several niche designers, each month the shop hosts a new collection in the original spirit of 10CC, which sees the storefront as a sort of living lifestyle magazine. Highlights from the opening included a collection of pieces by Tunisian designer Alaïa, a selection of jewelry by Kris Ruhs, and a profusion of Italian style with Fornasetti, Ferragamo and Alessi, among many others.
Salvatore Scarpa, in-house tailor for one week each month, is an outstanding testimonial for craftsmanship. He learned from a cousin when he was only five years old, and today—60 years of experience later—he still trusts his own hands and eyes more than any machine. A true artist from Sicily, he devotes his life to crafting men's suits. Every piece comes from a uniquely designed paper pattern and is delivered in a box with a dedicated fragrance. Every iterations seems to continue its life on Salvatore's sketchbook. "I might sound crazy, but when I trace a line on paper, it looks like something alive to me, it moves to create new forms, it has a soul that no machines can give life to. Tailoring is like sculpting a character on the lines of a body." Fully aware that old-school artisans are becoming an endangered species nowadays, he's teaching tailoring in Romania. However, China, with the demand for high-quality and unique patterns, will surely be the one to fall in love with his talent.
The opening event for 10CC, held last month, was an experiential journey in the world of fine crafts, understated design and slow-food, and with Shanghai's bold embrace of a luxury lifestyle, the Italian concept shop will certainly maintain a gripping reputation.
Photos by Alessandro De Toni