The World is not Enough Featured

Global, concept, flagship – luxury brands provide an interesting shopping experience in the major cities of Hong Kong and China
by 28 September 2010

The economy has not stopped international brands from setting up more stores in the Greater China region. Shanghai is an obvious choice, because of the excitement surrounding Expo 2010, with Hong Kong and Macau coming a close second and third with new openings. Panerai just opened a beautiful store inside Shanghai International Finance Centre. At Bund 18, Ulysse Nardin has also inaugurated its monobrand boutique. In Hong Kong, Paspaley has just celebrated its opening at 1881 Heritage, while just across the bay, Chanel feted its new fine watches and jewellery boutique at Wynn Encore in Macau, and Salvatore Ferragamo also cut the ribbon for its One Central boutique, the largest in Asia Pacific. The list goes on and on, but let me highlight some of the best shopping destinations in town for you.

Some of the world’s largest boutiques are in Asia Pacific. In recent years, international luxury brands have developed the concept of the “global store”. Rather different from the respective brand's other boutiques around the world, a global store carries complete collections, and offers a fuller shopping experience, with more space and finer interior design. For example, Ermenegildo Zegna has unveiled its first Global Concept Store in China. Designed by renowned architect Peter Marino, this store is located on Huaihai Road in Lippo Plaza, Shanghai. The stunning boutique has a sandblasted glass façade, with mirrored backlight fittings that look just like pinstripes on a suit. From the store window, you can see the season’s fashions displayed on giant LED screens. Exclusive to this Shanghai store is the VIP personal shopping room. This is where luxury shoppers can receive individual style consultation and personalised service.

Marino is no stranger to the idea of global stores, as he has also designed one for Louis Vuitton. Its new global store is located in Shanghai’s Pudong Lujiazui district. This is actually the brand’s seventh global store. Opened just months before the Expo, this store celebrates Shanghai as an international hub. A unique lighting system on the façade presents a splendid effect so you can see the store from miles away. There is a VIP room in the men’s and women’s area, where you can view artworks by contemporary artists such as Richard Prince, Arturo Herrera, and Anselm Reyle.

American brand Coach has opened its very first global flagship store in China, and it’s located on Huaihai Middle Road in Shanghai. For an informal yet refined shopping experience, the Coach design team has come up with a setting that looks like a New York home. Outside, a unique façade features transparent and opaque panels and the brand’s horse-drawn carriage logo. Different from other Coach boutiques, at this flagship store you will find a section with women’s accessories as well as the brand new men’s collections.

Piaget’s boutique on 798 Huaihai Road must be Shanghai’s icing on the cake. This shop is the largest in mainland China. It has the unique Piaget Time Gallery (this is the world’s third), where you can see Piaget’s evolution ever since its establishment in 1874. If you need a more private shopping experience, at one end of this Time Gallery there is an area where you can have a seat on the comfortable sofas, and consider your purchase amidst master Impressionist artworks and a collection of fine books.

If shopping in the city gets a little overwhelming sometimes, why not take a break and try doing something different? Green T. House and Green T. House Living are two unique oases in Beijing’s Chaoyang district. Visit the tearoom, restaurant, art gallery, spa-hotel or cultural venue. The Green T. House brand artistically combines different aspects of Chinese and Western culture, art and philosophy. The otherworldly experience is heightened by a truly ethereal decor, characterised by elegant and sometimes surprising elements. Whether you want to try the tea-based “T. Cuisine”, see an exhibition, get a spa treatment or even stay overnight, Green T. House is quite a unique way to experience the Chinese capital. Did you know that Green T. House has its own Home Collection too? Take a look at the Chinese-style designer chairs or paper bone china tableware on offer.

While shopping on Canton Road in Kowloon, why not stop by a unique place inside 1881 Heritage called Brother & Sister Concept Store & Café? Siblings Gilbert (dragon-i founder) and Cindy Yeung (Emperor group director) combine a stylish bar-café, fashion, fine watch and jewellery boutique. Eat and shop – that’s exactly what a Hong Kongnese likes!

When you go inside this basement venue, what you see right away is the bar with its unique loudspeaker-replete décor, and lots of comfortable seating. New York Design's Mark Zeff mixes Rock n’ Roll with modernity at Brother & Sister, which offers over 50 brands of fashion and lifestyle items, most of which are not found anywhere else in Hong Kong. This concept store is ideal if you are looking for something local yet trendy at the same time. And if shopping makes you hungry, you can tuck into a great dish and sip on a signature cocktail before or after making your purchases. Urban shopping experience doesn’t get any better than that.

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China Fall 2010