The British man who made his fashion dream in Beijing
The Plastered 8 store is located in Nanluoguxiang, a centuries-old alley in Dongcheng District of Beijing, frequented by tourists and foreign residents for its cafes, bars and crafts shops.
It is one of the most popular stores in the city. By combining retro icons with T-shirts, Plastered 8's owner Dominic Johnson-Hill has recreated a successful fashion business in Beijing.
Journey to the east
Johnson-Hill is an English expatriate who has been living in Beijing for 22 years. After failing his school exams, he left the UK at the age of 18 years. He went to Africa to look for job, but ended up traveling around the world for three years before arriving in Beijing in 1993. He said he actually came to see the Great Wall, but ran out of money and started looking for work instead.
In 1995 he opened his first business as a market researcher. From 1995 to 2000, Johnson-Hill traveled around China visiting every province, developing his business and feeding his passion for Chinese culture and history. In 2006, he came up with the concept of iconic Chinese imagery print-on shirts, creating his own clothing brand and founding Plastered 8. This led to him earning the Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the 2008 British Business Awards.
After more than two decades, Johnson-Hill and his Plastered T-shirts have become icons for China's creative retail sector.
How Plastered 8 was set up
Plastered T-shirts takes iconic imagery from China's streets and celebrates it. Johnson-Hill re-packages iconic images of Chinese culture, puts them on T-shirts
This idea came from an ugly T-shirt. In 2005, when he was walking down an old alleyway, he saw a tourist wearing a T-shirt that said “I climbed the Great Wall.” That led to him creating his own T-shirt with the slogan. “Actually it's my worst ever selling T-shirt. But it started the whole brand and it started the whole change in this old street,” he said during an interview with sino.co.uk. Then he started to think about images and icons that really moved him. He struggled with what could be done with all these images that were so much a part of Beijing and even of China. He suddenly discovered that he wanted to create a brand that really meant something to Chinese people and to people visiting China.
As a result, he created a street brand Plastered 8. He lived on a very quiet alleyway in Beijing called Nanluoguxiang and, one day, one of his neighbors notified him of a 13-square empty shop that was available. He took a lease on it and set up the first clothing store on the street with just £4,000 from his own pocket.
It was tough at first, as no one had heard about Plastered 8, so he put a huge amount of energy and passion into building the street's image by working with the local government to hold fashion shows and festivals. It's now one of the most famous and creative shopping streets in Beijing.
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