Channel chatted to the super-stylish creative brains behind Victoria Road boutique Connie’s. Jet-setter Yue Zhao divides her time between her international stores and has picked up not only her delightful accent from America, but valuable style contacts and fashion inspiration...
“Every girl has her unique passion for clothes!” Says Yue Zhao, a stylish, smart retail whizz who was born and raised in Shanghai. She has experienced fashion on three continents, owing to a spell in America and running her own stores in Bejing and Shanghai.
She explains how her fascination for clothes began.
“My Mom made clothes for me throughout my childhood, so my clothes were quite different from those of my peers, they really stood out. She tailored my clothes by following her design patterns and delicately polished them up.
I loved them!”
As she got older, Yue went with her ‘Mom’ to the fabric markets to pick her favorite colours and patterns herself. She remembers: “My Mom always used to choose the higher quality fabric, saying it sparked her imagination, led to a fine cut and accentuated her sewing. Sure enough, I developed my own unique understanding of clothes.”
Always fond of sharing her unique clothes with close friends, Yue opened up her own boutique after graduating from college. She said: “I didn’t tailor or make any clothes myself but used my abilities to curate a selection of styles and fabrics, all high end, to sell in my store.”
After a newspaper article one of her customers wrote about the entrepreneurial start-up, word spread and business took off. Yue then went on to open two more stores; in Beijing and Shanghai respectively before establishing Connie’s in Devonport a year ago. She said: “I’m delighted to have been able to bring Connie’s over to New Zealand!”
And what makes Connie’s different from other clothing stores?
“I really care a great deal about the quality of clothes. In my mind, clothes are judged by details,” explains Yue.
“I learned a lot from my Mom; she taught me that a well sewn button won’t easily come off and a well-chosen zipper can be durable for five years, reliable fabric won’t shrink or misshape and that a fine cut and sharp tailoring makes the wearer feel on top of the world!”
Yue believes many people know about brands of clothes but have little knowledge about the types of fabric and accessories, the tailoring and the cut. She said: “Even after many years, fashion chases after FMCG trends, but I still hold a deeper regard for quality, even when given the option of low-priced things. Gone are the days when businesses could make a high profit from selling ordinary clothes!”
In recent years, the styles of clothes have remained almost unchanged, says Yue who does, however, point out that the fabric market, conversely, has changed hugely.
“Such a change, in my opinion, comes from the component steps of dyeing and finishing. Strongly driven by technological innovation, silk, cashmere and cotton fabrics are mixed sophisticatedly and re-processed to give fabrics flexibility, comfort, practicality, as well as beauty. Mature-dyeing technology helps produce more exquisite patterns in modern clothing, brilliantly displaying the colours of clothes. The current summer collection displays a kaleidoscope of gorgeous colors!”
For Connie’s here in Devonport, she has a clear vision. “The lines specifically cater for the housewives who love life, and who aren’t lazy about dressing themselves - even for completing chores at home! They love life, yet don’t exactly desire extremely expensive things. They love their families, and with price, as well as quality, being a keen consideration, they’ll find Connie’s is the ideal place to express their own style.”
Connie’s, 23 Victoria Road, Devonport 09 985 1978