Shanghai Tang was founded by David Tang in Hong Kong in 1994. It was a retail store selling high quality product made in China, such as traditional Chinese costumes, Chairman Mao wrist watch, qipao, traditional Chinese silk products with Chinese design. Its target customers at the first place were those high ended tourists. Taking around 1 year, instead of 2 year which is typical period a new retailers need to make business in break even, Shanghai Tang turned its first profit in October 1995.
Shanghai Tang later entered an agreement with the Richemont Group which is a famous Switzerland-based luxury goods maker. David Tang thought Shanghai Tang would become China’s first international luxury brand. Like other ambitious entrepreneur, in Nov 1997, Tang opened the first Shanghai Tang store on Madison Avenue in New York USA. However, things were not going the way it was supposed to. Not many people liked what Shanghai Tang was selling. Unfortunately, the financial crisis worsened the situation, and it had to scale down the business. By 2001, Tang had reduced his stake in Shanghai Tang to near 5%, so the Richemont Group took control of the company.
Appointing executive chairman of Shanghai Tang in September 2001, Raphael Le Masne, who then employed a new creative director, Joanne Ooi, having intensive experience in international garment business. With correct insight and vision, hired more in house designers, and fixed the right directions, they were successfully turning Shanghai Tang around. Image of Chinese-themed high-end fashion and lifestyle emporium had been established. Sales and global coverage had been increased a lot from 2001 to 2008. By summer of 2008, company had more than 40 stores in 14 countries all over the world.
Things will never run smooth, at the same time, Joanne had handed in her resignation. An increasing conflict within company between creators and commercial departments also