The Student Store

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Friday, July 15, 2011 

under Education & Career by Tom Lee

Eight young fashion designers from Shanghai's Raffles Institute of Design are busy speeding up the pace for the grand opening of the first student concept store on the Chinese mainland. Located in XinTianDi Style, Raffles Privato is part of a program to nurture and support young Asian design talent of the future.

What makes it so unique is the idea behind the commercial viability of the project. Students mastermind the interior, build a business model and put their own work into the store. All in all, it's pretty experimental.

The youthful pioneers are all recent graduates from Raffles, and their collections are full of inspiration from different cultures and styles. Expect everything from classic tailoring to funky prêt-a-porter lines. Clothing designer Christan has crafted beautiful pieces in homage to this great metropolis and gleans her inspiration from the art deco architecture of the former French Concession.
"My collection, entitled simply ‘1930', takes inspiration from the emotion of old Shanghai. It's easygoing, nostalgic and aimed towards the modern, sexy woman." Displaying a different design tack, Niki's ‘S Recall' portfolio has a playful nautical outlook and is a great contender to rival the normal high-street chain retailers.

One of the brightest of the bunch is Chen ZhiGang, whose success so far this year in Asia's catwalk competitions has seen him notch up numerous young talent awards. His womenswear embraces soft, accessible design that should prove a winning fit with the Shanghai fashion market.

Besides the unique outlook of the designers and the ethos of the store, this venture will launch new talent from across the Asia-Pacific region, displaying a plethora of accessories and outfits - all from either current or graduate students of the Raffles network of colleges.

For Raffles Privato General Manager Albert Jin, the best part of the unique project is the opportunity it presents up-and-coming fashionistas to get real-world experience running a brand. "The idea of ‘supporting students to start their own business' has been talked about everywhere", he notes, "but Raffles is really moving towards that direction and we are using this project as our first step."

The idea for the original brand was established in Singapore last year and this is the first pilot store for China, with more expected to roll out across the country in the coming year.