Wuhan, from the epicenter of the pandemic to the direction of luxury | Fortune

Almost two years after Covid-19 began to spread through its streets, Wuhan has gone from being the epicenter of the pandemic to practically not registering cases since May 2020 and becoming one of the points of interest for luxury brands . A trend in line with the growth that is taking place throughout the country: while this market fell 33.6% in Europe last year, the Chinese domestic market experienced a 45% rise, on its way to becoming the area of highest global domestic consumption, according to the report The luxury industry 2020 and 2021: During and leaving the Covid, prepared by EAE Business School.

Specifically, the city of Wuhan is establishing itself as a place of mandatory presence for luxury brands thanks to the inauguration, in March of this year, of the Heartland 66, a commercial complex with an area of ​​450,000 square meters. The space has an office tower, a residential part with high-end services and 177,000 square meters of commercial space for luxury brands. The location has become a point of reference for these houses and many, such as Celine, Loewe or Berluti, have opened their first store in central China in this space. Also names like Mulberry, Hublot, Moynat, Philipp Plein, Moneta or Vilebrequin have made their debut in the region presenting their shop windows in this center.

Exterior of the Heartland 66 shopping complex in Wuhan (China).



Exterior of the Heartland 66 shopping complex in Wuhan (China).

The building, designed by the Aedas architecture studio, is located in the Qiaokou district, the financial heart of the capital of Hubei province. The design follows the infinite loop concept, based on the Chinese art of tying knots, symbolizing fortune. Thus, the commercial areas, the restaurant terraces, the square and the green areas are intertwined by a set of knots tied and integrated in a jade ornament. The upper part of the building has a landscaped roof terrace designed for pedestrian traffic and as an anchoring area for the project.

This structure is not unique, but is repeated in the large shopping centers of the country. “They have a vertical concentration to be able to offer a great variety of services: offices, hotel, luxury apartments, restaurant area and shops … Accompanied by rooftops marvelous and led lighting throughout the facade to make projections. This makes them iconic buildings and landmarks for the city, ”says Ramón Solé, director of the Luxury Brand Management MBA at EAE Business School. The ground floor, in addition, is usually used for the circulation of traffic or public transport, he adds. In this case, the construction has three subway and train stations less than a block away.

Interior of the Heartland 66 shopping complex in Wuhan (China).


Interior of the Heartland 66 shopping complex in Wuhan (China).

Although the opening coincided with the last blows of the pandemic, the project comes from afar. In fact, the first stone was laid in 2013. A fact that, according to Solé, coincides with a development strategy in the interior of the country that has been planned for more than 12 years, in line with the increase in local consumption. The same developer group, Hang Lung Properties, has several similar buildings: Parc 66, in Jinan; Westlake 66, in Hangzhou; Forum 66, in Shenyang; and Riverside 66, in Tianjin, among others. The number 66 that accompanies the name of these complexes is a symbol of good luck, explains the expert, who emphasizes the great presence of traditional symbols in these constructions. “Evidence that they are aimed at indoor consumption, both local to the city and domestic tourists in the country, but not foreigners,” he concludes.

This movement is completely logical for Cristina Martín, president of the Spanish Luxury Association: “Until now we only heard about Wuhan because of the Covid, but it is a political and economic center. It has 11 million inhabitants, practically like Paris, in addition, it connects by train with many other cities in the region ”. The Heartland 66 is also the home of the first Wuhan headquarters of Balenciaga, Fendi, Chaumet, Montblanc and Vacheron Constantin. The brands will share aisles with other regulars in this geography, such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Dior, Bottega Veneta, Burberry, Moncler, Bulgari or IWC, among others, in addition to those that have not yet opened their doors. A list that will continue to grow and that will contribute to the city being known outside of China for more than a tragic year.

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