We were tipped off that Water Stone was a new store in 798 exclusively selling Japanese designers, but we realised it'd changed its tack somewhat upon arrival (look for the gargantuan Optimus Prime statue by the entrance). As well as selling the wares of some Japanese and European designers, the store has branched out to include the other current buzzwords surrounding fashion in China - 'vintage' and 'Chinese designers'. The 'vintage' invovles some Givenchy, Dior and Comme Des Garcons, while the 'Chinese designers' include the usual suspects - Zhang Chi, Lu Liu and Vega Wang. Next season will also see Ye Qian and Zhang Da join the fray.
We were most excited, however, about the Japanese names, some of whom we'd never seen on the mainland before. While expensive, variety is the spice of life, and it is certainly what the Beijing scene craves. We love Nozomi Ishiguro's unisex cardigans and Kazuyuki Kumagai's 'Attachment' line featuring patterned knitwear. It also has Japanese label Varde77's 'Jessica Nussbaum' collection inspired by the style of Bob Dylan, and peppered with some glow-in-the-dark rave gear. 'Nude' by Masahiko Maruyama delivers yet another effortlessly stripped-down collection, while Water Stone also stocks pieces by the influential Yasuyuki Ishii, who creates otherworldly leather pieces alongside textured, discordant fabrics.
Water Stone hasn't found its groove just yet, the friendly owners insisting the best is yet to come. Positioning themselves in 798 might prove to be rather profitable, given the area is awash with hipsters yet rather limited on clothing stores. With ambitious expansion plans for 2011, we predict everyone will be turning Japanese. AM