Scrolling: Maison Margiela holds exhibition for Tabi shoes in Suzhou

On 19 June, luxury fashion brand Maison Margiela unveiled the recent incarnation of its experiential exhibition ‘Tabiology’ at its latest Suzhou store. The current stop of the archival exhibition of the brand’s signature split-toe footwear included a “Tabi Scroll”, exclusive to the Suzhou location. The gigantic installation is made up of two scroll-shaped slopes topped with hundreds of mannequin feet models, wearing split toes of course.

The opening was attended by Taiwanese actress Janine Chang and Chinese actor and singer Wen Junhui, better known mononymously as JUN. The star power caused the hashtag #Tabiology to gain 2.73 million views on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform, which is considered high engagement for a localised luxury brand activation. Apart from Tabi shoes and boots from SS 1989 up to 2017, the exhibition also involves AI interactive touchpoints for visitors to learn all about the history of the iconic Tabi collections.

Both the exterior of the store and the Scroll installation draw inspiration from traditional Chinese art and architecture, especially the Jiangnan style from the Jiangsu-Zhejiang-Shanghai region. It is consistent with the planning of the Cangjie Street shopping area, where the store is located. The interior of the store, however, continues Dutch architect Anne Holtrop’s design language for international stores of the brand. The localisation is similar to what Apple did with the design of its Jing’an Store.

The initiation of the exhibition also serves as the grand opening of the Maison Margiela Suzhou boutique, which had been teased since April. In fact, the Maison opened a pop-up shop in the same Cangjie area back in December 2022. The pop-up served as a trial run in hindsight. The shopping area was Suzhou’s effort to attract global luxury brands to the historical city in Jiangsu Province. This April, French designer fashion brand Ami held a high-profile fashion show on the City Wall in Suzhou.


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