When it comes to fashion, Vancouver is probably best known for yoga pants and fleece jackets.
But after studying abroad and finding success on international runways, two local designers have decided to bring their world of whimsical high fashion to the city.
Laurence Li and Chico Wang opened their first joint retail venture in the city’s West End on Friday.
Li described the space — part store, part café — as an escape into a dream.
“We know our clothes are a niche market and you have to think about the fit, the fabrication, the cost and everything,” he said.
“So that’s why we want to do a cafe … we are entering the lifestyle market and you can experience the Laurence & Chico story with a $3 coffee.”
That story began in Vancouver.
Li immigrated to Vancouver from China with his parents when he was 10, but he got his start in fashion when he was even younger.
“I played with Barbies. That’s how I started. I think it’s in my genes, I like the pretty stuff,” the designer said.
He went on to study at Emily Carr University before he got a call from every fashion student’s mecca: New York’s Parsons School of Design.
That’s where he met Wang and an audience for their whimsical aesthetic. The pair started off with printing postcards and selling them across from Miu Miu in New York.
“We got a great response first day. We sold $1,000,” said Li.
In three years as designers, Li and Wang went on to dress America’s biggest female rapper of the moment, Cardi B, and snap photos with Anna Wintour after a showing in Milan.
But it seems like there is no place like home.
“I’m from here and we got married so it means a lot for us to do our first store here,” Li said.
The postcards are still a vital part of their brand today.
But so are the bathrooms with 2,000 rubber duckies on the ceiling!
Li says he likes taking selfies in bathrooms, so it was important to the duo that the cohesive fashion-forward experience extend to all parts of the store and cafe.
Watch the video to see the ducks or check out the IGTV.
The other bathroom has 360 degree mirrors and hundreds of silk flowers.
Even the coffee is fashionable with its own carry tote.
And of course the clothing.
Like fashion, they promise the look of the cafe will change every season.
With files from Lien Yeung and Alex Midgal.