Beijing's Anchors to Luxury

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Beijing is widely known as home to a great number of wealthy people who exhited style and prestige in their everyday purchases. Shopping malls like Shinkong Place and Seasons Place can meet those requirements, and at the same time provide less affluent visitors opportunities to rub shoulders with the elite (or famous), to browse the goods, and gawk at price tags.

Shin Kong's glassy and distant exterior almost seems to be a metaphor for the luxury stores it houses. Exterior windows are rendered opaque by patterns and brand names like Gucci, Chanel and Salvatore Ferragamo, all plainly laid out.

Within, a sprinkling of visitors wander the aisles, some well-dressed, others looking surprisingly average. More high-end brand names make their appearance, such as Coach or DeBeers diamonds. If you have money to spend, Shinkong will certainly assist you in doing so. A men's Italian custom tailored suit in the Prada store can run you 18,650 yuan ($3000 USD), which is both slightly more expensive than it would cost in Italy and definitely capable of going much farther.

Zhao Xinyang is a Beijinger, currently studying stage design in the capital before he moves on to Rome. He recently purchased a belt from the Gucci store. "There's a lot of stuff here. Like everything." He tried to explain the mall's attraction: "I come here too often. Once or twice a month."

Zhao has a particular appreciation for luxury goods, but admits that social pressure is a factor in his consumerism. "Chinese people and foreigners have different ideas about fashion. For example, I like some brands because I like the culture of the brands and the designers. Other people like brand name things just because they're popular. But if everybody buys those brands… I should buy them too."

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