With new boutiques popping up left and right, it can be easy to miss new designers who have chosen a path that’s less about the bricks. The following brands are putting the attractive storefront on hold, instead taking advantage of China’s growing channels of e-commerce and social media marketing.

Sadawa Studio
Sadawa came to Beijing 17 years ago from Tokyo where she studied the art of corsage making. Her hobby turned into a project for China Fashion Week 2013, and she saw the opportunity to educate consumers how to wear these flowers. Look for her class on how to DIY a corsage at In and Out, but she’ll do the “short version” – a single ornament can take up to three days to make.

Ding Xiaohe
Ding teamed up with the Surge Art Fair last year to sell her quirky, lao Beijing-inspired prints, which are now available anytime on Surge Art’s website. Her wear for the wall is inspired by trips to Panjiayuan Antique Market. What often comes out of these visits, Ding says, are works that “express the irony of social attitudes here, but always retain a deep love for Beijing.”

山药 (SSCY)
Understanding this quirky brand is about understanding its name, shanyao, or “yam.” “The name was inspired by something I noticed every Chinese New Year,” designer, Yan said. “When my grandma’s pork and yam soup arrived to the dinner table, everyone went only for the yam and left all the meat. In Chinese culture, yams are mysterious and zen, but powerful.”

Amulet by D
It’s tough to find jewelry designers in Beijing who are as creative and crafty as American-born Doris Chou Durfee. Her longtime hobby began modestly with shows around the US. One doesn’t need to be educated in raw materials to enjoy Durfee’s one-of-a-kind necklaces – just to appreciate the organic patterns and sparkling color in gems scouted out during her travels.

Que Yang promises you won’t find a shoe that flatters a woman’s foot quite as well as hers in a retail store. Her trendy flats, smoking slippers, and boots are all about the small lines and curves that make all the difference in fit. She uses fabrics like sensuous suede and velvet, with a soft, leather lining that cradles the sole. She’s also one of the few in Beijing who will customize an order for large sizes.

These Swedish-born shades became associated with Migas’ cocktails last summer after they were handed out for “free” at a special event (the drinks were priced at around RMB 300). Since then, Dienastie’s founders have been on the road promoting the eyewear through collaborations in Shanghai and at The Hub trade show in Hong Kong. Don’t worry though, they’ll be back for another round of parties.

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Photos: Sui

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