Two-Story, 800 Square Meter Flagship To Open June 18
The mega-metropolis may have been in the news more for political controversy and intrigue than business over the past several months, but on June 18 the massive Chinese municipality of Chongqing — larger than Taiwan and nearly as populous as Canada — will see the opening of Gucci’s southwest China flagship. Covering 800 square meters and two floors, the new location at Golden Eagle Shopping Center will stock the full Gucci collection of leathergoods, footwear, apparel, accessories and children’s clothing for the “Little Emperor.”
Coming just a year after Chongqing’s much-hyped and ultimately ill-fated “red revival,” perhaps never before has the moniker “Gucci Maoists” been so apt.
Three years in the making, according to Chongqing media, the new location will be the centerpiece of the mall’s new section, the remainder of which is still under construction and will open to the public by the end of the year. With 15,000 square meters of interior space, the new seven-floor section at Golden Eagle will include a new MUJI location in the basement, while a new Omega store and the two-story Gucci flagship will sit on the ground floor and a number of restaurants, bars and wine stores will fill the upper floors. Located near Chongqing’s Maison Mode shopping center, where Louis Vuitton opened a sprawling flagship last summer, Golden Eagle is also situated near the famous Jiefang Bei (解放碑) Pedestrian Street, likely a motivation for Gucci to build its second Chongqing location (after Starlight Place) there.
As major luxury brands have expanded into China’s interior, tapping growing high-end spending among consumers in second-, third- and (increasingly) fourth-tier cities, Chongqing has become the de facto luxury hub of the country’s southwest. As Xinmin (Chinese) put it last year:
As the only municipality in western China, Chongqing’s GDP is among the highest in the country. In terms of luxury consumption, Chongqing’s famous beauties are driving sales: revenue at Chongqing’s Armani boutique are the highest in the country; Burberry sales have surpassed Shanghai and Beijing; in addition, every year many Chongqingese fly to Europe or Hong Kong for shopping sprees.
According to recent rankings on retail investment attractiveness in Asia, Chongqing came out sixth. “As southwest China’s main city, Chongqing’s consumer behavior and purchasing power are very strong. Luxury goods are sure to see a breakthrough there,” said a representative from the Chongqing Economic Commission. Recently, the Asia-Pacific president of LVMH, the world’s largest luxury goods group, traveled to Chongqing to discuss a timeline for entering the market.
Chongqing residents spend thousands on limited-edition Tourbillon watches, they’re familiar with top brands, and they understand the meaning of “haute couture” and “made by hand.” What’s more, rapid economic development has given Chongqing a great amount of potential as a city of consumers. But Chongqing has unique characteristics: it’s trendy, but not trendsetting; occasionally provocative, but not extravagant; Chongqing residents go against the common wisdom of economists, remaining indifferent to conspicuous consumption. In Chongqing, the elegant and the vulgar coexist.