The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

I’ve Started A Cult. Apparently …

Another day, another post about my love of China.

So a few months ago I was there for the opening of a clients latest venture.

You should all check it out because it’s a luxury fashion mall THAT LOOKS LIKE MARS!


It was specifically designed to feel like you are on a space station on another planet.

It features everything from luna modules to robot sheep to video screens that look like skylights that show you in outer space.

It is utterly mad and yet truly amazing.

A place that is like no other I’ve seen anywhere else in the World.

But then, without wanting to sound a corporate toadie, the client is like no other I’ve met anywhere in the World … even when I was living in China, which tends to have a lot of brilliantly ambitious folks than anywhere else I’ve lived.

I have to do a post about him soon because not only is his influence on the fashion world almost unparalleled – and I am comparing him to people like Anna Wintour in that statement, let alone the heads of Gucci, Prada and countless others – but in the time I’ve worked with him, he has taught me to look at strategy in a completely new way.

Given I’ve literally been working in this discipline for more years than you care to mention, that’s pretty amazing … so I am sure you would find him pretty fascinating too.

Anyway, as part of the project, I was interviewed about what we have been doing for him and how we have worked together.

I talked about how much I love China and how much of an honour it is for me and us to be able to go there and help with a once-in-a-lifetime project. This may sound like I was a total crawler, but the fact is it’s all genuine.

We have been allowed to influence and shape at the highest level – strategically and creatively – and that’s been amazing, especially when there have been times you’ve disagreed with some of the things they wanted to do.

That’s hard for companies to hear at the best of time, but when it’s the billionaire founder of an international fashion group, that’s a whole other level of sensitivity and yet he has been nothing but open to us because he knows we’re not doing it for any other reason than wanting him to win better.

And when you’re talking about creating Mars on earth, ‘winning better’ is going to be crazy fun, whatever way you look at it.

But back to the interview.

So off we head to China for the opening.

It was packed with press and celebrities.

Billionaires mingled with paupers – errrrm, me – fashionistas rubbed shoulders with fashion disasters – errrrm, me again – so imagine their surprise when the start of the official opening included this …

Yep … that’s me.

Yep … that’s my interview.

Yep … no one understood why I was there or what I was saying.

I’d love to say I was all cool, calm and collected, but I – along with my colleagues – were pissing themselves laughing.

It was madness and awesome all at the same time.

I didn’t know whether it was like a remake of the classic 1984 Apple ad. or my attempt to be the leader of a Birkenstock cult … but it was like nothing I had experienced in my life.

Which is another reason I love this project and miss China.

Because when you are working with someone who believes anything is possible – and has the drive to make it happen – the journey is equally as much fun as the destination and I feel massively fortunate to be on it.

Even if there are people all around the World asking themselves …

“Who the fuck was that old guy in the camo Nike hoodie?”

22 Comments so far
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Why didn’t the authorities see this was an early sign of corona?

Comment by Bazza

You may have a point.

Comment by Rob

That place looks crazy.

Crazier than a room with 4 huge images of you in a ridiculous camouflage top beamed onto the walls. That crazy. Only in China I guess.

Comment by Bazza

It is. But it’s brilliant. And his rationale for it is brilliant too.

And this won’t be the only one he creates. He has 2 more in development and not all in China or Asia. His interests are global and his fashion industry power is incredible. He personally represents 25% of Gucci’s worldwide profits, is personally responsible for Rihanna and her Fenty brand and one of his places turned over $100 million in 24 hours. That’s in-store purchasing. It’s incredible and the way he thinks and looks at the world is invigorating.

I’m a fan and not just because he made me feel temporarily popular. Ha.

Comment by Rob

How did you meet him Robert?

Comment by George

Originally it was a pitch in Paris.

He had a migraine. It wasn’t going well.

Then I started talking about youth culture in China [the pitch was for Europe] and he saw how passionate and – dare I say it – knowledgable I was on the subject. Fortunately is all happened just as his migraine was lifting and before I knew it, he decided we were the one.

He’s been nothing but inclusive and open to us and the end result might just challenge the brilliant madness of the VA lounge project.

The brief was equally as provocative …

“Create a place where traditional luxury buyers will never want to enter.”

[He wants a place where a new generation of can define luxury rather than have it defined for them]

My favourite bit was when he said it didn’t really matter if this was financially successful, success for him was how it changes the attitudes, habits and behaviours of the entire luxury industry.

It’s been special.

Comment by Rob

proof billionaires literally have more money than fucking sense.

Comment by andy@cynic

Everything about this post is incredible.
I’m heartened there‘s still someone investing in being different.
You attract the successfully strange like no one else I’ve met.

Comment by George

Yep. Me too. And his other projects are even more pragmatic and progressive.

Then there’s his plans with Fenty …

Comment by Rob

This sounds like your client and their project were made for you.

What an incredible story. It must be so much fun. I mean, if you are building Mars then anything can be on the table. Probably pushed it a bit too much having you introduce it all though. ; )

Tomorrow I will add photos of this place to a presentation I’m writing about the need to be bold, distinctive and imaginative. Thank you.

Comment by Pete

Ha … lazy bugger.

If you need pictures, just shout – I have a ton, including video of all the windows that are actually ultra thin, high-definition screens that show the galaxy so you feel you are truly in outer space.

Comment by Rob

It appears you were made for each other.
Is there a place I can read more about the project and the person behind it?

Comment by Lee Hill

It’s less about Mr Ji, but here’s a link to the article Wallpaper just did about it and the architects we worked with in London:

Comment by Rob

Fascinating read. Thank you Robert.

Comment by Lee Hill

Now it begins to makes sense. Mr.Ji thinks you are a martian and is absolutely certain that a giant video of you will ensure that traditional luxury buyers will never want to enter.

Comment by John

Told you he was smart.

Comment by Rob

he only likes you because you look like a fucking martian.

Comment by andy@cynic

Rob’s personality is like space. No atmosphere.

Comment by DH

Andy is much better at dissing than you Dave.

Comment by Bazza

Hate to say this but this is very cool.
Might even want to hear the strategy behind it, which is about as crazy as the venue. Good one Rob.

Comment by DH

fucking crawler.

Comment by andy@cynic

[…] with brands like Mr Ji and Gucci both embracing this change and driving it … it will be interesting to see how many […]

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