Freshness Feature: PHANTACi

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Interview with Ric Chiang ()& Jay Chou () of PHANTACi

Interview by: AJH
Translated by: Poe
Produced by: Dan Hwang (DAN H.)

Situated in the trend setting neighborhood of Taipei City's Eastern District (), where shoppers would find landmarks such as Taipei 101 skyscraper and stores like Undercover Taipei, is PHANTACi. More than just a simple urban fashion retailer, PHANTACi has the unique distinguishment as the only store with Nike's "Tier 0" account on this island nation.

A partnership between famed musician/actor Jay Chou () and his long time friend Ric Chiang (). PHANTACi is the materialization of the 2 owners' life-long interest with urban culture, from its cloistered stance from mainstream culture to its limitless potentials for individual expression. These 2 ideals played important roles in the store's unique name, an amalgamation of the words "phantom" and "fantasy".

Since its founding in 2006, PHANTACi has not only become the event space of many Nike product premiere events. It is now hub where Taiwan-based and international artists showcased their collaborations, such as the "I Can't Brake" exhibition to promote fixed gear culture. To understand PHANTACi's plans for both near and long term, plus its insights on the Taiwan marketplace, Freshness sat with both founders for a brief chat.

PHANTACi
1F., No.63, Lane 223, Sec. 4, Jhongsiao E. Rd., | Map
Da-an District, Taipei City 106, Taiwan
TEL: +886 2 8773 1426

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> PHANTACi

Could you share with us how PHANTACi, the store and its name came about?

Ric: In its earliest form, PHANTACi was just a small store Jay and I started. We wanted to it to focus on things that we like, trends we thought that were interesting. Including, of course, lots of sneakers. However recently, we begin to test PHANTACi as a brand on the global arena, especially after our collaborations with Nike and others. As for the name PHANTACi, it was Jay's idea. By combining the ideals he like about urban culture, along with his multi-facet roots in the music and movie world. He thought we should combined the words "fantasy" and "phantom" together. It is a bit mysterious and a bit playful take on the definitions of the 2 words.

*Note:* "Fantasy" was the title of Jay Chou's second album.

Feature and Interview continue after the jump...

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Since PHANTACi opened 2 years, what moments stood out the most for you both?

Jay Chou: Of course when you own a store and a label, there are many moments that would be memorable. But one that stood out from the rest was when we got the Nike "Tier 0" account. By the way, did I mention we got "Tier 0" account? (Laughs)

Yes, about the Nike "Tier 0" account and to be the only retailer in Taiwan to have it, can you discuss the process in obtaining it?

Ric: We were extremely happy to get such an important account in such a short period of time. But, the work we put in before Nike's approval was unimaginable. What really helped PHANTACi, I think, was our previous collaborations with Nike. These gained their trust of us to do things correctly. Plus the fact that Jay's able to keep track of the constant changing trends. I think both played important parts in us getting the "Tier 0" account.


Jay Chou () & Ric Chiang ()

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Jay Chou ()

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Jay Chou ()

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Ric Chiang ()

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Ric Chiang () with Devilrobots

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Ric mentioned "trends" before. Jay, you have been in the "trendsetting culture" for some time now. What is your take of it?

Jay Chou: Well, it is obvious most trends are cyclical, though at certain times or periods, there will be ones with originality. In such resource rich environment, I think the best trends are the ones you find suitable for you. This is the true intention of trendsetting, to inspire the creation of new ones.

Ric, as PHANTACi's Creative Director, what are some unique aspects of PHANTACi?

Ric: Personally, I think our focus, the mixing of what is trendsetting and what is creative, is like no other retailers here in Taiwan. This is our proudest achievement thus far. Another would be our insistence that the retail space is simple in design. Unlike the general perception of "trendsetting shop", PHANTACi wants to present merchandises from different genres. We want to give our customers a range of excellent products to select from. Of course, PHANTACi is only in operation for 2 years, so we still have improvements to be made. One being to let more people know what PHANTACi is all about.


PHANTACi's fixed gear event - "I Can't Brake" exhibition

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PHANTACi's fixed gear event - "I Can't Brake" exhibition

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PHANTACi's fixed gear event - "I Can't Brake" exhibition

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PHANTACi's fixed gear event - "I Can't Brake" exhibition

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What, you think, PHANTACi will bring to the Taiwanese urban culture and market place in general?

Ric: Taiwan has always been a marketplace of imports, whether it be trends, products, or cultures. PHANTACi would like to change that a bit.

Jay Chou: Yes, I feel no one (here in Taiwan) has really explore or develop their own brand of styles and trends, that are base on the local culture.

Ric: So like I mentioned before, we want to give Taiwan consumers a range of products, be it foreign or domestic, to select from. Then they can explore on their own. Just like the name PHANTACi implies, there are limitless possibilities.


Nike x PHANTACi - Be True Exhibition

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Nike x PHANTACi - Be True Exhibition

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Are there any special projects or planning for the last half of this year (2008) you can share with us?

Ric: Currently in the planning stage are several collaborations in the works. Most will be to benefit charities and causes we believe in. And to welcome PHANTACi's 1st year anniversary next year, we are also working on many projects now, which will be reveal in time. One plan I can reveal now is the creation of our second store. That is all I can say now.

*Note:* While the PHANTACi was established in late 2006, traditionally Chinese business count their first year in operation as "premiere year" or "zero year". So the 2008~2009 will be consider as 1st year PHANTACi in operation.

Jay Chou: The next half of the year will be the same (for me), which is to launch my latest album. I will be directing some music videos as well. As for PHANTACi, there will be a few special projects and events for its 1st anniversary. But I want to take this time to thank everyone of their continue support for PHANTACi and my soon to be release record.