June 13, 2024

Mugler has officially entered the Chinese market with a yearlong pop-up store at Réel, a luxury mall in the heart of downtown Shanghai.

The store, which features the label’s fashion and fragrance goods, is located at a busy atrium of the mall, neighboring Dries Van Noten and Thom Browne.

With its sharply angled fins and louvers in the signature Mugler blue, entering the store feels like exploring an immersive art installation.

“We wanted to encapsulate forward-looking architecture that still resonates in a chic and timeless way,” explained Casey Cadwallader, creative director of Mugler. “It can be a little bit unexpected and interesting sculpturally,” he added.

Trained as an architect, Cadwallader worked alongside British architect Sophie Hicks to design the store, which included conquering height constraints. Made in brushed aluminum, the sleek structure is also fully recyclable and demountable.

“This is our first experiment in that territory. Now we can keep refining it,” Cadwallader added.

The store will be hard to miss from any direction: a showstopping bustier dress (seen on Anok Yai) from the brand’s latest spring 2024 collection is at one end of the imposing structure while at the other side is a blown-up display of Mugler’s Art Deco-inspired Les Exceptions perfume bottle.

A display of Mugler's Les Exceptions perfume.

Mugler’s Les Exceptions perfume.

Courtesy

The shop carries ready-to-wear, accessories and handbags from the label’s latest collection. Signature scents, including Angel and Alien, as well as six juices from the Les Exceptions range, including Over the Musk, Mystic Aromatic, Chyprissime, Wonder Bouquet, Cuir Impertinent and Ambre Redoutable, are also available.

Mugler first touched down in China last April with a pop-up at Shanghai’s Machine-A. Working with Réel meant taking a consistent approach, which is to communicate “the right mix of luxury and fashion-forwardness,” according to Adrian Corsin, managing director of Mugler.

“Réel feels like the right place in that there’s really the clientele that Mugler is speaking to right now,” Corsin continued. “It really represents where we are as a brand: we like to make a fashion proposition.”

“It was important to open the first pop-up here because there was an energy here. It’s different from Europe — there is this teeming energy around clothing and expression that I find invigorating,” Cadwallader added.

Japanese-American singer Mika Hashizume poses with Casey Cadwallader at the store's opening event.

Japanese American singer Mika Hashizume poses with Casey Cadwallader at the store’s opening event.

Courtesy

For Cadwallader, it was a natural decision to put fashion and fragrance in one retail setting.

“I like to work on them all together, all at the same time, so it’s actually quite nice to see them finally at home together,” the designer explained.

“We’re at the very beginning of our Mugler story within China,” Corsin said. “Last year’s Machine-A pop-up was kind of tipping our toes in. Now we are dipping our feet in, and I think next we’re going to dip the whole body. The reception that we’ve been receiving here is super positive, and I think slow and steady and strategic wins the race over the long term.”

With Asia being Mugler’s fastest-growing market, Corsin is already planning to bring “new elements and experiences” to the local market, which will be unveiled later this year. Mugler might also pack up and roll out the Réel store in other cities.

“It’s about finding the right opportunities at the right time,” Corsin continued. “We’re growing and responding to wherever people, particularly in China, would like us to be. So I think that’s more of our strategy.”

“We know that the climate is difficult, but we also think it’s an interesting time to do it. We’ll be refining, learning and adapting to the needs of our customers,” added Cadwallader.

With bags taking center stage during the Machine-A pop-up, and now perfume, the next phase of Mugler’s China rollout could be spotlighting another essential category.

“We have a lot of expansions in shoes to different types of purposes that aren’t necessarily as formal,” revealed Cadwallader. “We’re doing the first Mugler flats and it came out really well. I thought I wasn’t gonna like them and I loved them.

“There will be new things in men’s, then there’s a big focus on high-tech knitwear for men’s and women’s, as a category to kind of replace the sporty Lycra pieces that we used to do,” added Cadwallader.

Denim, Mugler’s number-one category, will also continue to expand with various fits and finishes.

“We are also trying to work in raw denim, because in the end, there’s less waste in terms of water and washing, but it’s also very chic at the same time,” Cadwallader explained.

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