Foshan, China – Uniqlo basics and the sportswear trinity – Nike, Adidas and Under Armour – are omnipresent in China. Casualwear has been a mainstay of the country’s menswear industry for years. Though, parallel to that trend is, surprisingly, the growing demand for made-to-measure, premium menswear. This is the specialty of Sigar Bespoke, a new single-brand retailer in Foshan.
The company is taking hold of that demand for customised classics, re-introducing freshly-pressed button-downs and immaculately-stitched hems in a spatial format devoid of 1950s clichés. Developed by Chinese architecture and interior design studio Construction Union, the recently opened shop is one capable of reeling those more comfortable in streetwear concept stores than at their local tailor’s workshop. That’s possible, because, for lack of a better expression, it looks cool.
Construction Union’s design makes it quite clear that Sigar Bespoke realised in briefing the project that they needed to appeal to contemporary consumers, not just sartorial sentimentalists. It’s why you won’t see warm colour palettes, bottles of unopened whiskey or boxes of Cuban cigars walking into the shop – why, never in a million years could you imagine Frank Sinatra or Humphrey Bogart suddenly waltzing in. This is by smart design. Perpetuating those kinds of period tropes, as done often, is an unconfident approach. If tailored menswear is to regain momentum in today’s fashion industry, the sector needs to be given the relevant space(s) to do so.
And the Foshan store is one such space. Construction Union’s design concept echoes the brand, deriving inspiration from the cloth-weaving process. This insured that the ‘guests would feel that the space and product share the same values.’ Round iron pipes were welded to build frames for the dark grey walls, then manually threaded with rattan. The end result, gently curved, is an installation that simulates textile, a visual reference to the customisation experience each client of Sigar Bespoke visiting the 110-sq-m location will receive. After the multi-material, highly tactile surfaces were complete, contemporary furnishings in a similar palette of dark hues were selected.
Whether men choose to ditch their chinos and tees depends on more than whether or not retail spaces targeted to them tell a convincing, updated narrative about the world of suits and ties – though it sure makes for a more natural sell.
Sigar Bespoke has been submitted to the Frame Awards 2020 for consideration for the distinction of Single-Brand Store of the Year. Inspired by the project? Keep an eye on its progress, or submit your best work to compete, here.