In an unprecedented move during the brand’s 156-year history, Louis Vuitton has opened two new boutiques in a single city on the same day. Shanghai is the lucky recipient of the French mega-brand’s attentions. The ambitious roll-out was scheduled to preceed the May 1 start of the 2010 World Expo, where Vuitton is a sponsor of the French pavilion and hosts a special exhibition celebrating the magic of Paris. Louis Vuitton Chairman and CEO Yves Carcelle remarked that there’s been a long commitment to the Chinese market, beginning with the “pioneering” move to open a first Vuitton store in mainland China in 1992, when “luxury didn’t exist” in the country. Today, that foresight is paying off. He sees “the demand for luxury growing very fast.” President of Louis Vuitton China Christopher Zanardi-Landi echoes the sentiment, believing that the country is home to discerning consumers that “absorb everything” and require brands to “work harder to excite them.”
Nothing short of spectacular, both locations-Pudong District and Huaihai Road–feature facades that glitter with LED lighting. The Peter Marino-designed spaces pick up on the brand’s codes, such as monogram flowers, Damier checks and the iconic LV logo and subtly integrate them into the design from ceiling to floor. A full complement of fashion and accessories for men and women is available at each. Film star Gong Li was on hand at the ribbon cutting of the new Hauihai Road location.
Meanwhile, there’s more in the works for the city. Shanghai’s original Vuitton store at the Plaza 66 shopping center will be enlarged many times over and transformed into a new flagship location by late 2011. And it is already the first boutique worldwide to host a special atelier for commissioning made-to-order pieces and customizing other Vuitton goods.