Shanghai’s Arc’teryx “Museum” Shows the Continuing Appeal of Outdoor Chic in China

In recent years the brand has made a big splash with Chinese middle-class consumers and streetwear fans

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3:42 PM HKT, Tue June 4, 2024 1 mins read

At the beginning of the year Canadian outdoor brand Arc’teryx opened its first ever “museum store” on West Nanjing Road in Shanghai, not far from Jing’an Temple in one of the city’s most bustling retail areas. Still going strong six months on, the store illustrates both the importance of the Chinese market to Arc’teryx, and how the brand is reshaping fashion sensibilities in the country, from the closets of white-collar workers, to the outfits of the hippest streetwear fashionistas.

The 2,400 square meter store is organized into four sections across four levels, offering a product range spanning from skiing and hiking essentials to its high-end Veilance line. It features a repair space called ReBIRD™ for garment restoration, an Arc’teryx academy, and an interactive exhibition space. The museum’s debut exhibition highlighted Arc’teryx’s most iconic product: the hard shell Alpha SV jacket. The exhibition included an interactive experience which allowed visitors to experience simulated hiking conditions of rain and wind while wearing the jacket.

The brand’s decision to establish its first “museum store” in China reflects its both its ownership structure and its burgeoning market performance in the country. After Arc’teryx’s parent company, Finland’s Amer Sports, was acquired by Chinese brand Anta in 2019, Xu Yang, formerly an advertising professional, assumed the role of General Manager for Arc’teryx Greater China. Xu proposed the concept of positioning Arc’teryx as “athletic luxury.” The opening of what was then the brand’s largest store in the world in September 2020, spanning 736 square meters in Shanghai’s Huaihai Road Alpha Center, yielded significant advertising returns as desired by Xu, catapulting Arc’teryx to prominence in the Chinese market. Over time, Arc’teryx’s premium pricing (for example 3000 RMB for a hard shell jacket) found acceptance among Chinese consumers: not only hiking enthusiasts and employees in the business and tech worlds, but also streetwear connoisseurs, who are styling their merchandise for the perfect “gorpcore” look, drawing technical outdoor equipment into the fashion world.


The opening runaway show for the Alpha SV exhibition. Photo via Arc’teryx.

By now, Arc’teryx has achieved such a level of success that it’s referred to as one of the “Three Treasures of the Middle Class” (中产三宝, zhōngchǎn sānbǎo), along with Lululemon and fellow Anta brand Salomon. As for Xu Yang, he is now Anta’s CEO.

One thing that sets Arc’teryx apart from some of its counterparts is a comparative focus on male consumers. Looking at the brand’s official Chinese e-commerce store, the 20 best-selling apparel products are all menswear, despite women’s styles also being available. As such, part of the appeal of the West Nanjing Road “museum store” may be how it provides an interactive retail experience for male consumers building identity through sportswear. For the time being the social significance of Arc’teryx apparel in China seems set, but whether or not the company can maintain its stature may depend on if it can maintain the functionality and quality of its products.

Banner Image via Wallpaper.

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