Nicely Made in China

News on China quality products, lifestyle, design and services.



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This week Nicely Made in China presents the brand “Shanghai Trio” (上海组合). 12 years old this year “Shanghai Trio” was born in Shanghai as the name suggests. It is now expanding to Beijing and also has a shop in Paris among other places. NMiC spoke to the owner Virginie Fournier.

How did you have the idea to start “Shanghai Trio”?

When I arrived in Shanghai in the middle of the 90’s my head was full of expectations of what I would find in China: the finest silk and  as well as all sort of craftmen working in the streets. But none of that seemed to exist. What I had in mind in fact was a mythical China. But I quickly decided that I wanted to make beautiful “things” with local people. So with two other friends we teamed up and started Shanghai Trio. I really had to open my eyes and push doors to find what I wanted. 12 years later I still do exactly that: keep my eyes open and keep pushing doors.

What kind of products did you make in the beginning?

We began making souvenirs, small silk bags what we called “carré de soie”, things like that. I am proud to say that Shanghai Trio helped re-launch the souvenirs market in China. I now see products similar to ours everywhere in China.

Who designs the jackets, bags, children clothes Shanghai Trio makes?

I am the artistic director, I travel regularly between Paris and China. Ning Jia is our designer based in Shanghai. We also work with a color consultant. As for the ideas we get them mainly in the streets of China: Shanghai Trio bags for instance are inspired by the Chinese post office bags and the electricians bags. Both found their way into our collections. We changed the colors to make them our own.

What about the material and the fine work on your quilts and tablecloths ? Where did you find the people who could still knew those crafts?

I looked around to find craftsmen and women and fortunately there are still a few around. We use embroidery and trimmings on our quilts, tablecloths and silk jackets. Some of the embroiderers and trimmers started to work with us in 2000 and are still with us to this day. Time is an important factor in a working relationship in China and we’re trying to keep alive some of ancient China crafts while keeping up with the pace of a modern economy . Shanghai Trio is now employing 45 people most of them in our Kunshan factory near Suzhou.

As for the materials we literally scour China to find the best cottons and silks. There are some nice stories about the way we find some those. For instance we loved the postmen bags and particularly the color. We call it China green since it is so unique. We looked for the same cotton but could not find it anywhere until we found the factory which was working for the Chinese post office and we managed to get leftovers. It’s a fabric which is so thick and so tightly knitted that it’s waterproof. Now most of the materials we use are made for Shanghai Trio following our specifications.

How often are collections coming out?

Twice a year: in September and March. The 2010 collection is called Red Tea Inspiration.


2 Responses

{hi from california!} thanks for sharing. great interviews! i’ve added your blog on my site. wondering if you would be interested in exchanging links. if not, that’s totally fine. i blog about asian related fashion/style. cheers, gabrielle {}

  • Dear Gabrielle

    Thank you for your kind words and your very nice website.

    Kind regards