If you're like me and take Beijing's subway on a regular basis, you've been bombarded by large, colorful, graffiti-like ads for a new mall called Joy City at Xidan, yesterday I decided it was time to investigate. Let me just say, while the mall won't be fully operational until early March, its already time to get excited. The majority of stores only offer coming soon signs that fill one with promise, though a number of stores are already open for business.
There is a certain element of Japanese influence already in place at Xidan, but Joy City will offer up a different, subdued version of Japanese style with the arrival of Muji to the capital and also Uniqlo rolling the dice again on Beijing. Beyond those two great (and very different) bastions of staples from Japan, there will be another Ajisen Ichiban noodle shop among other Japanese shops.
This mall isn't all things Japan, though. I'm equally excited about another Zara opening up (and in general, a lot of similar offerings as at The Place on the eastern side of town, including French Connection, i.t., and Sephora). There will be a large Apple (authorized seller) store and G2000 has opened up a store to match the size of the one in Xin Dong An. Beyond Muji, which I've already shown my love for, I'm really happy about the already opened G2 Black Label store in the mall, Beijing's first. In general, G2000 makes some decent work wear at reasonable prices (think Banana Republic), but the G2 Black Label items are a little higher end, more stylish, modern fit (think slightly slimmer suits and narrower ties) that are still very affordable. Another store that makes its first appearance in the capital (and is already open) is Giordano Concepts, featuring more fashionable (and slightly more expensive) offerings for work and weekends (almost always limited to black, white, and grey).
It will be interesting to see how Uniqlo does this time around, its Shanghai store at Raffles doesn't have a lot of floor space, a problem that I think also plagued its original Beijing locations. Uniqlo is sort of hard to pin down, it sort of a bit of Gap and a bit of Old Navy, a place for decent, affordable clothes which also has low-end basics. Given a large enough floor space (like they have in HK and like they seem to be getting in Beijing), they can show the full range of their products and should be able to succeed this time around.
Xidan is the place for edgy, young fashion, it will be interesting how this mall, full of preppy choices and stores for 20-something white collar workers to outfit themselves for work, play, and partying will do.
Xidan, always known as one of THE spots to shop, is now a destination for all walks of life. You have the teenagers into Japanese/Korean styles congregating in/around Xidan Shopping Center, the traditional Chinese department stores (Grand Pacific and Zhong You), the new addition (Joy City), and chuppie heaven (Time Square).