old navy, meet china. shanghai, play nice.

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As I mentioned yesterday, Old Navy has opened in China! March 1st was the grand opening, and since it’s located near the Jing’an Temple subway station (at the corner of West Nanjing Road and Wanhangdu/Huashan Road), I stopped by after work. There’s some promotional material out there hyping it as being on the “famous West Nanjing Road,” which is technically true … but it’s a bit of a trek from the main shopping area. I suspect they were afraid it wouldn’t be able to compete with the Uniqlo, H&M, et cetera that’re over there. It was weird seeing such hoopla over Old Navy considering it’s a very basic place in my mind, but since it’s their first store in China, it is a pretty big deal.

The prices, quality, and styles seemed on par with in the States (id est, so-so on all counts), but it did seem as though the focus was more on dressier casual, like floral blouses and graphic prints rather than plain t-shirts. I guess if a Chinese person wanted a plain t-shirt, he/she would probably opt for Uniqlo, which is a Japanese brand that already has an established presence in China and offers decidedly better quality than Old Navy. I find many of Uniqlo’s cuts to be annoyingly conservative, like suffocating high necklines, awkwardly-long skirts, and sweaters that make everyone look square, so I was really excited for Old Navy and the familiarity of its stuff. I went hoping to pick up some simple spaghetti-strap tank tops, but THEY WERE NOWHERE TO BE FOUND. Huh? So not the Old Navy I’m used to. Also, no sale section (which is where I usually found the best deals), but I’m sure one will materialize as time goes on.

The store was nicely done, which is understandable given it’s the first adventure into the China market, but I found the layout unintuitive. Separated into three levels, the space was partitioned oddly, to the point that I got turned around a few times, had my path blocked by a display table, and almost walked into a mirror! Old Navy’s flagship in New York was also multiple levels, but far easier to navigate. It was quite crowded, so perhaps that was partially to blame, but the simple/open layout of most stateside Old Navy stores is nowhere to be found. The one thing that really struck me was: Old Navy is from San Francisco? Really? Of course I knew Old Navy was an American brand, but seeing the giant Old Navy sign with “San Francisco, California” underneath was like hm … I guess being American is a real selling point in China. And if you didn’t guess it was an American store by the sign out front, all the logo t-shirts, bags, et cetera with “San Francisco” or “New York” scrawled across ’em would surely clue you in.

Old Navy
1728 West Nanjing Road, Jing’an District, Shanghai

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