Xīn Nián Kuài Lè! What better reason to explore this boundless city that has welcomed the best Spanish designers than to celebrate the New Year of the Goat.
Beyond the walls of the Forbidden City extends a vast metropolis with unique magnetism. Its imperial past and communist legacy, still evident in its buildings, coexist with the towering glass structures that dominate the business districts of the Asian giant in this new era. Contemporary art and design flood the streets as Beijing reasserts itself as a city that actively defines the essence of the 21st century. Trends and fashion appear like a favourite pastime of residents and the streets, lined with the shop windows of the most prestigious Spanish brands, one after another, are a testament to their influence in Asia.
We begin our tour in Wangfujing, a few metres northeast of the historic Tiananmen Square. Considered downtown’s most important shopping district, this pedestrian street features popular traditional shops interspersed with international fashion outlets and large shopping centres, making it a must for locals and tourists alike. Restaurants and street-food vendors dot the strip and are well worth a stop. But it is the legendary Wangfujing Department Store, founded in 1955, that is the confluence of countless ‘Made in Spain’ footwear brands. Beside the ‘eco-friendly’ range of El Naturalista and Pikolinos, we find 24 hrs with its technology designed to provide globetrotters with comfortable shoes, and Pedro Miralles with its feminine and trendy collections.
We head west toward the Haidian district, the home of Peking University and the technological area. There we find another major pilgrimage destination for fashionistas: New Yansha Mall, where several Spanish footwear brands are located. Among them, Saga Ibañez with its sophisticated leather range; the jewelled collection of Valencia’s Lola Cruz; and the 24/7 designs of Hispanitas.
Another mecca of luxury in Beijing is Seasons Place in Xicheng, the area inhabited by the local Chinese nobility before the advent of the communist regime. Visitors can revel in Delpozo’s collections of contemporary femininity and the made to order leather proposals of Lottusse.
The city has its own Galeries Lafayette, a concept exported from Europe. Opened in 2013, the shopping centre is located east of the government district in one of the city’s most exclusive commercial areas. In the more than 47,000 m2 of this emblem of Parisian chic, consumers will find the ballerinas preferred by celebrities from Pretty Ballerinas, the Mediterranean character of Camper, the sustainable collections of Ecoalf, made from recycled materials, and designer glasses from Etnia Barcelona.
Hopping over to the financial district of Chaoyang in the east of the city, we find the Olympic village, a handful of embassies, and a concentration of several of the country’s most famous shopping centres. Parksons is one of them. This consumer paradise features footwear collections from Callaghan and the elegant versatility of Patricia’s leather shoes and handbags. In the same district, we rendezvous with fine jeweller Carrera y Carrera on Park View Green, and the high-performance fashions of Buff, in the multibrand colossus Sanlitun SOHO.
Further south is the China World Mall, a space dedicated to international luxury that includes more than 300 exclusive boutiques. Here we find Loewe’s flagship store, with its shelves showcasing the collections of the firm’s new creative director, JW Anderson. This sumptuous space also features the coveted footwear of Pedro García.
Without leaving Chaoyang, we enter another major shopping hub: Viva Beijing Plaza, a centre with a young spirit, dedicated to entertainment and major international chains like Zara, Massimo Dutti and Mango. A must-see in the neighbourhood is Shin Kong Place, to discover the chic sandals of Castañer and the sophisticated creations of Pura López.
But if you are looking for pure entertainment, Solana is the place. Located in Chaoyang Park, amid the shops, ice skating enthusiasts can strap up and take a spin around the rink, see a film, or relax in one of the many cafés. The pearls of Majorica, the delicate apparel of Oysho and the young, urban collections of Stradivarius, Bershka and Pull & Bear are only a few of the Spanish brands available here.
To end the day, we suggest and unforgettable experience: a visit to the Pangu hotel, a 7-star complex, conceived under the principles of the horoscope and Feng Sui, where the atmosphere is exclusively VIP. Enjoy a cocktail with a view at the Happiness Lounge, located on the 21st floor, a genuine feast for the eyes. Below, the lights of the Aquatics Centre and the National Stadium transport spectators into another dimension.