百貨業吹中國風?!

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1990 / 3月

文‧宋菊琴 圖‧鄭元慶



過去,向歐美、日本看齊就是進步的象徵,舶來品就是時髦的代名詞。

現在台灣比較富裕了,也開始有人將眼光回歸中國,探索著五千年的歷史文化,至今要如何呈現?不只服裝業的趨勢如此,連一向以「日」為師的百貨業,也都出現了這樣的省思。

根據台北市百貨公會統計,全台北市大大小小的百貨公司,包括分公司共計廿四家。一般以廿萬人口設立一家百貨公司來估計,台北市三百萬人口數,只夠支持三分之二的百貨公司生存。

在面臨過飽和的激烈競爭下,與日商技術或合資合作,便成了國內百貨業突破經營瓶頸的不二法門。例如由日本SOGO百貨與我國太平洋建設合資成立的太平洋崇光百貨,就以上萬坪的大賣場、禮貌周到的服務及大量日系商品,於一年多前竄起,一炮而紅。

近來,位於台北市南京西路的新光百貨公司也與日本三菱公司合作,將改建為十至十二層樓的百貨公司,預計兩年後完工。其他百貨公司也不甘示弱,今年夏季拍賣後,就大約有十家公司紛紛邀聘日本專家,進行賣場的改裝計畫。

百貨業也吹中國風

在這股東洋風的橫掃之下,經營坪效向來高居業界第一,並以領導流行自居的中興百貨公司,卻獨樹一幟地吹起「中國風」,標榜以「中國創意文化」做為經營的理念。

在為期一個月的封館改裝前後,中興以「中國不見了」,「中國出發了」為題,刊登報紙廣告,文案上寫著「在世界創意的版圖,中國消失了;在國際流行的舞台,中國缺席了;在民族生活的美學,中國不見了;……值此之際,我們提出『中國創意文化』的理念,……」這套廣告除了榮獲七十八年時報廣告金像獎金牌獎的榮銜,也成功地引起同業及消費者的好奇。

這股「中國風」要怎麼吹?它只是百貨公司促銷的噱頭,還是另有看頭?以「中國」作訴求重點,不會與一向講求流行的百貨業格格不入嗎?

「我們所謂的『中國』是廣義的,而不是一般傳統的概念;簡單來說,凡是具有中國的意念或中國人的創作,都是『中國創意文化』」,中興百貨公司前總經理徐莉玲表示,提出這個理念的目的,在鼓勵廠商生產中國人設計的產品、消費者重視創意的生活。

不過,不可否認的,在中國風的取向中,也摻雜了徐莉玲個人的理想。她感慨地說:「百貨公司在台灣有廿餘年的歷史,卻未曾發展出屬於中國人的經營特色。」

在國際上這已有前車之鑑。由於香港消費者對當地產品毫無信心,港商自營的百貨公司幾乎全軍覆沒。在台灣,各大百貨公司與日商合作之後,她擔心:台灣會繼香港之後,成為日本過期存貨的低價傾銷地。這也正是她為什麼會在百貨業掀起另一場「中日戰爭」的原因。

古文物出新意

為了建立一個全新的企業形象,中興百貨不只在賣場的裝潢上全部更新,更早自年初即為員工「洗腦」,期使中興百貨裡裡外外都真正「中國化」起來。

從今年元月起至六月底止,周六到中興洽公,如果沒有先約好,準會撲個空。到故宮博物院上中國文物研習課程,是企劃部、商品採購部、外商部及專業幕僚今年上半年的「工作」之一。

從中國古代的銅器、玉器、瓷器……一路上下來,除了概論的介紹,還利用一半的時間到展覽區鑑賞實物,令這群每天忙著接觸頂尖時髦的百貨業員工,初次有系統地仔細端詳這些令人嘆為觀止的文化資產。現在只要看到有關畫片,同仁們已習慣性地評頭論足,討論「老古董」成了員工共同的話題。

「專業人員已不知不覺中將這些融入到賣場的表現,或商品設計之中,這也正是這項在職訓練的最終目的」,中興訓練課課長許天發說。

目前中興正積極與故宮安排明年的課程,將由概論的介紹,進入更深的層次;內容也將集中在與百貨業有關的歷代服飾、陶器、漆器、玉器等主題上。

接下來緊鑼密鼓進行的,是中興百貨台北店與新竹店的改裝行動。

據了解,這次單單台北店的裝潢設計費就耗資新台幣三億元,平均一坪大約十萬元,與一般百貨公司改裝花費每坪頂多花二、三萬元相較,可稱得上是史無前例的大手筆。

曲高和寡適應不良

十月底中興百貨台北店改裝後重新開張,新竹店也正式開幕營運,果然吸引不少消費者前往。

但是,逛完一圈下來,消費者找不到一根雕樑畫棟,也見不到一扇朱紅大門。一位陳太太說:「真像一座『現代博物館』。」所謂的「中國味」在那?一般消費者都一臉茫然。

參與此次與加拿大設計師溝通改裝內容的中興百貨台北店特別助理陳健元解釋,這次的設計整體上看來是現代感十足,要從細部設計上仔細品味,才能體會中國的感覺。

像部分牆壁、地磚以中國傳統的金鉑、錫鉑綴出龍的抽象線條;一些桌子、椅子,可以看出中國古代器皿的弧形線條;穿衣鏡的邊框,則有古時洗臉架的曲線。新竹店由於空間較大,更可以中國特有的長廊表現悠閒的空間設計,以雲頭雕花玻璃作屏風隔間;以類似陀螺的半圓椎體構成陳列架等。這也正是徐莉玲強調的「這不是一間古董店」,所要表達的是屬於中國的印象,而不是全然的復古。

在空間的運用上,這次也做了大膽的突破,採迂迥曲折的進落式隔間,使商品能明顯區隔,並塑造「中國」的空間感。但這項頗具匠心的設計,卻也是最受爭議之處。

許多消費者都感覺有如進入迷宮之中,一位中興的主顧就表示,「我來了三趟,還沒找到要買的東西的位置。」

客層重新定位

再加上經由這次改裝,商品與客層都做了調整。商品的單價大幅提高,淘汰文具、書籍及超市等毛利低的商品,而以進口名牌精品取代。客層則向金字塔的頂端縮小,年齡由過去卅歲至四十歲調高到卅五歲至四十五歲。所以,許多過去是主顧客的消費者進入中興不能感到怡然自得,甚至有點壓迫感。

消費者的「適應不良症」,使專櫃廠商感到顧客流失的壓力。但是,徐莉玲卻胸有成竹,準備迎接新的客源上門。

「每年國人大概要花上新台幣二百餘億元的觀光外匯,只要留一部分在國內消費,百貨公司業績就可以大幅成長。」徐莉玲表示,留住國內的高消費階層,是她打的如意算盤,另一方面她也獨具慧眼,看中極具開發潛力的外國觀光客。

「在台灣,百貨公司觀光客的消費不到總業績的一成」,徐莉玲說,「國內進口關稅不斷降低,只要好好規劃,在香港九七大限後,台北可以成為很理想的觀光購物都市。」徐莉玲已未雨綢繆。而對觀光客來說,具中國風的百貨公司,自是比東洋風有魅力。

演員尚待培養

當然,一座標榜「中國味」的百貨公司,在搭好漂亮的舞台之後,還得要有一群恰當的演員上場演出才行。

有鑑於香港中國百貨公司賣的都是些古董、手工藝品,產品內容非常薄弱,中興決定開發出具有現代感的中國商品。

像此次改裝重新開幕,中興就將商品重點擺在服裝與家庭用品兩大類。在服裝方面,由於中興百貨一向與設計師溝通良好,要取得共識不難,況且國內設計師也領悟到,要登上國際舞台一定要有自己民族的風格。

去年由黃嘉純、溫慶珠、李冠毅、呂芳智等四位國內服裝設計師聯合舉行的秋冬裝四人展中,就全是以中國出發,中國風的服飾供貨來源不成問題。

在家庭用品方面,一切就沒那麼順利了。得尋找適當廠商,提供資訊,鼓勵他們生產,走出新的路子,一切都得從零開始。中興預計開發的新產品包括家具茶組、衛浴用品等。

但是,「僅中興一家的銷售量不足以吸引廠商開發這條新的生產路線」,中興台北店家事科襄理許雪娥一語道出開發中國商品的癥結所在。

大家一起來

由於真正的中國商品取得不易,徐莉玲發現,對「中國創意文化」理念的推展,不能以在中興實現為滿足,必須整個社會產生共識。因此,她有意將這理念擴大到鼓勵藝術家創作,鼓勵中國人找回自信,創造出屬於中國人的品味與創意。

然而,現實和理想總是有一段差距,中興百貨改裝後的業績並不如預期中的好。究竟是「中國風」拖垮了業績,或是其他因素?並沒有確切的說法。徐莉玲的理想,終於敵不過業績壓力,她於二月底離開了中興,但她掀起的這股中國風卻不就此畫上句點。

僅一街之隔的鴻源百貨舉辦了當代陶藝名家精品聯展,希望藉此散播中國文化的種籽;鄰近的龍太外銷成衣店的櫥窗中,也以朱紅色的中國拱門為設計重點,期能引發人思古之幽情。

百貨公司商業氣息固然濃厚,但與大眾生活卻有密切的關聯,這種結合時代使命感來提昇企業形象的高招,只要用心經營,對社會正面的影響力,不也值得喝彩?!

〔圖片說明〕

P.14

以雕刻的花紋邊框,將穿衣鏡點綴得中國味盎然。

P.16

電梯口豎立著雲朵圖案的玻璃屏風,令顧客感受迎面而來的中國風。

P.16

(左)古雅的坐椅,也成為百貨公司中的陳設家具。

P.17

(右)弧形的線條在中國風的設計中運用頗多。

P.17

細膩的設計,連毫不起眼的地磚也綴上一條條的金龍。

P.18

現代感十足的模特兒,梳著誇大、高聳的髮髻立在櫥窗中,是不是帶著中國古典的創意?

相關文章

近期文章

EN

China Fever Hits the Department Stores

Theresa Sung /photos courtesy of Arthur Cheng /tr. by Peter Eberly


Emulating the U.S., Europe, and Japan used to be considered a symbol of progress here, and imported goods the height of fashion.

Now that people on Taiwan are more well-to-do, some of them have turned their sights back to China and begun groping for a way to make their country's 5,000-year-old culture come to life in today's world. That thought has caught on not only in the fashion-wear industry but also in the department store business, which in the past has always taken its lead from Japan.

According to the Taipei Department Store Association, there are a total of 24 department stores in the city of Taipei. The standard rule of thumb in the business being one department store for every 200,000 people, Taipei, with a population of 3 million, should be able to support only two thirds of them.

Driven by the fierce competition, department stores have generally turned to Japanese firms for technical or financial help in moving upmarket. The Pacific group, for example, teamed up with a Japanese chain in opening its big new Sogo department store, which proved an immediate hit as soon as it was opened more than a year ago, thanks to the courteous service of its sales personnel and its huge stock of Japanese goods.

More recently, the Shin Kong group, in cooperation with Mitsubishi, began two years of reconstruction on its Nanking West Road branch to turn it into a ten- to twelve-story department store. Anxious not to be left behind, some ten other stores brought in Japanese experts last year to help them redesign their sales areas.

The sole exception to the infatuation with Japan has been Sunrise department store, long noted as an industry leader, which has been trying to drum up a craze of its own, touting "Chinese creative culture" as its operating principle.

During the month-long period it was closed for redecoration, Sunrise took out newspaper ads under the headlines "China Has Disappeared" and "China Sets Out" reading, "China has vanished from the world creative domain, and China is absent from the international fashion stage . . . at this critical juncture, we are advocating the ideal of Chinese creative culture. . . ." The series not only earned first place in a national advertising contest but aroused the curiosity of consumers and industry insiders alike.

Would their "China campaign" really catch on? Was it just another sales gimmick? Or was there more to it after all? Could "China" really be used as a selling point in the fashion-fickle department store business?

"When we say China we mean it in a broad sense rather than the ordinary, run of-the-mill notion. To put it simply, any creation that contains Chinese ideas or is created by Chinese people is part of what we mean by Chinese creative culture," explains Hsu Li-ling, the company's general manager. The aim of the campaign, she says, is to encourage manufacturers to produce goods designed by Chinese people and to encourage consumers to value creativity in their lifestyles.

Mixed in with that concept is a personal concern of hers. "Department stores have more than twenty years of history on Taiwan," she says, "but they still aren't run in a way that relates to the Chinese people."

In creating a new corporate image, Sunrise not only overhauled its Taipei and Hsinchu stores from top to bottom but also began steeping its employees in Chinese culture, shipping them off for weekly classes at the National Palace Museum early last year, with further classes lined up this year as well. As for the renovation work, the bill for the Taipei store alone was an unprecedented NT$300 million (more than US$11 million), working out to a figure per square foot that was three or four times the standard rate in the business.

When the two stores reopened at the end of October, they naturally attracted crowds of the curious. The shoppers were in for something of a surprise though: there was not a carved pillar or a vermilion doorway in sight. "It's really like a modern museum," a Mrs. Ch'en said, "Where's the Chinese flavor?" Most shoppers were confused.

Ch'en Chien-yuan, a special assistant who worked on the renovation, explains that the design as a whole is fully modern in approach while the Chinese feel comes out only by carefully savoring the details.

"It's not an antique shop," Hsu Li-ling stresses, meaning the store has an image that relates to China without being completely retrogressive.

It also represents a bold breakthrough in space utilization, so much so that many shoppers get the feeling they've entered a Chinese maze. "I've been here three times so far and I still haven't found out where everything is," one longtime patron said.

Both merchandise and clientele have been upgraded as part of the renovation. Lowend lines like books and stationery have been eliminated in favor of pricey name-brand imports, while the targeted age group has been cranked up a notch from 30-40 to 35-45. As a result, many patrons of the past have felt a bit uncomfortable with the changes. But Hsu is getting ready to welcome new ones.

"If the people who spend more than NT$20 billion a year overseas on tourism only spent a bit more of it at home, the department store business would really take off," she says, indicating that prime clientele is what she's after. In addition, she also foresees a lot of potential in tourists.

"Spending by tourists at department stores in Taiwan counts for less than a tenth of the total," she says. "With tariffs constantly being lowered, all we need to do is plan well and Taipei can become an ideal shopping hub for tourists after Hong Kong runs up against 1997."

Department stores are commercial enterprises of course, but they are also an intimate part of daily life. If a store can raise its image by promoting Chinese culture and producing a positive effect on society, isn't that worth applauding too?

[Picture Caption]

Decorative frames lend Chinese flavor to a pair of dressing mirrors.

A glass screen with a cloud pattern gives shoppers a Chinese sensation.

(Left) Elegant old-fashioned chairs serve as department store furnishings. (Right) Arced lines are frequently used in Chinese-style design.

Even the tiles are meticulously arranged in gold dragon patterns.

Does a thoroughly contemporary mannikin with a bolt-upright hairstyle have anything classically Chinese about it?

 

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