As home to some of the finer restaurants and cafes in the
city, (Des Lys, Epicvre, and Boonna among others) Xinle Lu exudes a chic heat at
night time. Expensive coffee, expensive wine, fabulous lighting, ahh modern
life. Walking past these places after work and peering in their windows, I could
make out two of the more dazzling subspecies of the expat genus: graphic
designers with expensive Mac notebooks and European couples who look like they
have very very important sex.
As I continued my stroll, thinking about great lighting, European sex, and
modern life, I peered into a few more shops and saw migrant laborers working to
perfect the concrete industrial angles and sleek wood paneling of a few as of
yet unnamed boutiques: it seems that Xinle Lu is refashioning itself as a
shopping area -- a diet Huaihai Lu of sorts.
The Source (158 Xinle Lu), opened on Dec 8th, is two thirds retail outlet and
one third art gallery. A 1000-meter-warehouse complex, The Source (and the Kong
Gallery on the second floor) is hoping to be more than just a fashion boutique,
however, and combines fashion and visual art (and in the future music and film)
to serve as a "platform for street culture in China."
The space is split on two floors with the first floor a showroom displaying
creative limited edition streetwear (from 2k by Gingham) in an atmosphere that
blurs the distinction between art proper and fashion. Beyond the glass display
cases of club kid t-shirts and soccerball artwork is the centerpiece of the
store: a two-storied square column that houses numerous brands and over 100
different styles of footwear from Double Identity, Pointer, and Havaianas. The
stairs to the second floor wrap around this glass-encased wooden column and
ascending them must be something of a religious experience for sneaker-addicts.
The sales floor and the 300-suqare-meter Kong Gallery are housed on the
second floor. As I walk into the foyer and turn left a nice black and white
stripped sweater from Franklin and Marshall catches my attention: "Hmm that's a
nice sweater. Blitzkrieg Bop. I wonder how much ... whoa fuck! 1500 kwais!"
Realizing that I was out of my league I hung out in the Kong gallery and
waited for my backup to arrive. The current show at the Kong gallery features
skateboard artwork by local (the Reload Crew and Lan), Beijing (LiQiuiu), and
Irish (Nial O'Connor) artists.
There are fifteen works in all on single and
joined decks, and styles range from old school graf to abstract to portraiture.
All this is set to change, however, as the concept behind the current show,
running until January 13th, is to invite four local and Beijing crews of street
artists to "fill the gallery space by any means necessary." Although its still
in its infant stages and thus a bit empty ("Kong" means "void", fyi), the
development and finished product should be an interesting mirror of Shanghai's
newfound interest in street culture.
Finally my expert arrives and back to the retail section we go. DP, we'll
call her, works "in the industry" and knows about fashion (or maybe she's really
good at faking it). What follows is a summery of her findings:
- "Really really nice jackets. Chicks will want these. From gsus. I think its
Dutch. In the 1500-2000 range. Imported too and there hasn't been a mark up. See
the listed price in dollars?"
- "Retro 70s rollerdisco chic from Mooks.
Australian. Prints. All fabrics. Vibrant colours. These retro cropped jackets
would look hot paired with some nice hip hugger jeans. Ahh they carry slutty
jeans skirts. My friends will love these. Again with no markup."
bringing back Denim, with that crimpled look. Shanghainese chicks will be all
over this in a few months."
- "Mod jeans. Tight and tapered. Jeans in
general are 800 to 3000. Write that. Thatí»s fair for nice jeans. Oh Ksubi. You
should get a pair of these. No don't. You can't pull it off. This is a great
store for indie rock mods and chicks. Updated retro styles. Great selection of
hoodies and zip-ups. This store has some decent hip hop gear too for skaters and
heads. Don't you think?"
Location: 158 Xinle Rd