Shopping in Beijing: Sanlitun's Best Boutiques

Standing in front of the world's largest Adidas store. Sanlitun Village, 2011. 

Standing in front of the world's largest Adidas store. Sanlitun Village, 2011. 

Happy Black Friday! Even though Beijing isn’t really participating in this American retail tradition, in the spirit of shopping, I have compiled a list of my top recommended boutiques in Sanlitun. This will be the first of my “Shopping in Beijing” series – Lido/798, CBD/Guomao and Gulou are next! If you want to see my original reviews on each store (previously published by the Beijinger), click on the embedded links below. 

BNC (Brand New China): I take all my wide-eyed visitors here to prove to them that Chinese design can be both original and cutting-edge. Hung Huang, also known as "China's Oprah," opened BNC in Beijing’s trendiest shopping compound to provide local talent with a respectable platform to showcase their work. You can easily pick up a few affordable knick-knacks, from leather iPad cases to porcelain earrings, but also splurge should you wish to supplement your wardrobe. All of China’s most promising frontrunners are stocked here, including Uma Wang (the winner of the Audi Progressive Designer Award 2011), Xander Zhou, Vega Zaishi Wang, Fan Ran, Yang Du, Qiu Hao and more. Daily 10am-10pm. B1/F, NLG-09, Sanlitun Village North, 11 Sanlitun Lu, Chaoyang District (6416 9045)

Shanghai Trio: This Shanghai-based home décor brand is run by a team of French and Chinese designers who place emphasis on traditional materials and handicraft methods. (For my interview with one of the founders, click here.) All of the products, from beautifully intricate throw pillows to cashmere blankets, are made in an intimate workshop of 45 people. They are a bit pricey, I’ll admit, but some cheaper accessories (i.e. passport cases, wallets, handbags) ensure that you won't leave this boutique empty-handed. Mon-Fri 9am-6pm, Sat-Sun 11am-7pm. B1/F, NLG-38, Sanlitun Village North, 11 Sanlitun Lu, Chaoyang District (6417 3606) 

House of Willow: If you have a taste for luxury vintage accessories, this is the shop for you. Owners Karen Leung and her Beijing-born husband Michael Xing regularly make trips to auction houses back in the US and Europe to procure rare gems like a Chanel bag from the ‘50s and a 24K gold necklace once housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Even if you can’t afford a thing, House of Willow operates much like a museum in itself – and the items on display are worth marveling at. Daily 2-9pm. North of Sanlitun Village North (opposite car park entrance), Chaoyang District (6416 2786, 186 1813 2506) 

Belita Jewelry: Anytime I need to pick up presents for friends, I head here. They offer such a range of styles that you’re bound to find something, whether your taste is feminine (bright gem earrings), punk rock (studded rings, scaly bangles) or subtle (barely-there chain necklaces). Daily 10am-7pm. 1/F, Under Eric Paris Salon, Sanlitun Houjie, Chaoyang District (8576 8836)

D-SATA: This eco-friendly purse brand has been long-established in Sanlitun, first in Nali Patio and more recently in Village North. There is a reason why founder Currie Lee’s clutch bags are becoming a ubiquitous sight at fashion events – more than chic, they are also all handcrafted in Southeast Asian cottage industries by women earning a living income. NLG-13, Sanlitun Village North, 11 Sanlitun Lu, Chaoyang District (138 1123 1495, 134 3966 4067)

Approx: You will want everything in this shop. Everything. The only thing holding you back will be the prices, which sadly put many items just out of reach. Owner P.J. makes most of the edgy jewelry herself, but also stocks interesting creations by designer friends. More recently she has begun selling her own clothing line as well, which I have not yet seen so cannot vouch for – but if they look anything like the stuff she wears, then they will be incredibly chic. A301, 3/F, Nali Patio, 81 Sanlitun Lu, Chaoyang District (139 1170 6284)