Shopping in Beijing: CBD’s Best Boutiques
At long last, here is the final list of my “Shopping in Beijing” series. This time, the spotlight is on Beijing’s Commercial Business District, which naturally is awash in luxury brand stores and glittering malls (all the better to serve its high-spending businesspeople clientele). But do not be mistaken in assuming that this area – which includes Guomao, Shin Kong Place, Central Park, the Place, Chaowai Soho and Parkview Green – will only appeal to conservative shoppers. In the last few years, several cutting-edge boutiques have settled down here, making the CBD a worthwhile trip whatever your taste or wallet size may be. While the CBD has suffered some setbacks recently (with the closings of Surfin’ Bird, Mr Ms and Source), there have also been several exciting additions that make its retail future look brighter than ever.
Joyce Guomao’s China World Shopping Mall is currently home to the largest Joyce flagship store in the world. Unfamiliar with Joyce? Think of it as luxury department store Lane Crawford’s younger and more adventurous sister. I just came back from Hong Kong and stopped by quite a few Joyce shops, and while the one on Queens Road was quite nice, it still didn’t compare in size and glamour to this Beijing branch. (Of course, prices were much more reasonable since they didn’t reflect a foreign import tax, but you get the point.) I have attended a few events here and have always admired the layout of the brands and products, as well as the majestic spiral staircase. All the labels you’d expect – like Alexander Wang, Stella McCartney, Balenciaga, Maison Martin Margiela, Rick Owens – are out in full force, along with more alternative designers like Undercover, with high price tags to match. You can read the original review I wrote on Joyce here. Daily 10am-9.30pm. Shop 3L103-104, Block 3, China World Shopping Mall, 1 Jianguomenwai Dajie, Chaoyang District (6288 8383)
Dong Liang Studio One of Beijing’s most prized boutiques, Gulou suffered a huge loss when Dong Liang Studio relocated to Central Park. Now the CBD is treated to an expertly curated selection of China’s top designers, from Uma Wang to Chictopia to Ricostru. I give more background on this shop’s roots in a separate post devoted to Dong Liang, which you can read here. Daily 11am-9pm. Unit 102, Building 2, Central Park, 6 Chaoyangmenwai Dajie, Chaoyang District (8404 7648)
COS As those of you who have been following my blog know, Parkview Green (China’s greenest mall) has recently opened its doors to the public and will likely feature many other stores that will eventually need to be added to this list. For now, H&M’s high-street brand COS is one of the few deemed worthy, mainly because it is still only available in select countries worldwide. Europeans will probably roll their eyes, but it’s okay, because Americans are extremely deprived and eager for COS. In a nutshell, it’s like H&M but much higher-quality, and more chic and minimalist. Think simple basics (like pleated skirts, LBDs, cashmere cardigans, clutch purses, etc.) that are beautifully made and only a fraction of the price of luxury goods (around RMB 699-1,200). For photos, check out my other post on Parkview Green and COS here. Daily 10am-10pm. 9 Dongdaqiao Lu, Chaoyang District (across the street from The Place and Chaowai Soho)
Shang Xia Backed by French couture house Hermès, Shang Xia has high ambitions: To become China’s first homegrown luxury label and restore dignity to Chinese heritage (as well as to the tagline ‘Made in China’). Its lifestyle products – from yak hair coats to zitan wood tables – are made in collaboration with local artisans, and designed to showcase the "art" of Chinese living. Hundreds, sometimes thousands of hours are often poured into creating a single item, with eye-popping prices to match (up to USD 45,000 for a teapot). But rest assured there are also more affordable items offered by this young brand, which debuted in Shanghai only five years ago. The Beijing branch just opened last year, designed by Kengo Kuma and stunning to behold (see photos here), but a Paris branch is already in the works for this spring. B/1F, China World Shopping Mall (next to Hermès), China World Trade Center, 1 Jianguomenwai Dajie (6505 7358)