There is something surreal about standing in the middle of Time Square being bombarded with every form of advertising there is, sandwich boards, bill boards, LCD screens, loudspeakers and not-so-loud speakers. As you would expect in Time Square I’m also surrounded by global brands like Coke Cola, Dunkin Donuts, KFC, Starbucks and McDonalds, intermingled with Gucci, Feragamo, Zara, Next, Nike, D&G and Max Mara. The crowd is young, urban, trendy, glamorous and slightly risqué. It’s surreal because this Time Square isn’t in NY, it isn’t even in America, it’s in Shanghai.
Everyone is very well dressed, well groomed and well accessorized. I have even been put off Louis Vuitton purses because of their abundance. They seem to be standard attire for everyone, from women older than my grandmother (God rest her soul) to school girls who are carrying the rug sack versions. Mothers use them as baby bags and even Men haven’t escaped the Louis Vuitton addiction, man bags are a plenty here.
Today I found out why everyone is so groomed here. Spas, spas and more spas. They are everywhere, most office buildings have them, most community housing buildings have them and for the equivalent of about $6 you can get a manicure in your lunch hour and still have time to eat some noodles. Even more interesting is that it appears that the Chinese have learned from the west, that white is best. All the women are into skin whitening and a plethora of whitening beauty treatments and products fuel this desire. It’s a shame because all the younger girls who haven’t been influenced yet, have beautiful skin color and beautiful complexions.
Ok people help a girl out here because the Diva is confused. Correct me if I’m wrong but wasn’t this a hardcore communist country just 50 years ago? Isn’t it supposed to be still communist albeit a little less militant? Again I maybe wrong, but don’t capitalism, consumerism, vanity and self indulgence go against all communist ideologies? I read somewhere that General Motors sold more cars in China in the first half of 2010, than it did in the US and it now accounts for one quarter of General Motor’s global revenue. That’s a whole lot of capitalism for a country that’s supposed to be communist…..
How in the world did this happen? How does Shanghai have the biggest Louis Vuitton and Cartier stores I have ever seen (and believe me, I have seen a lot!)? How does a communist country with a population of over 1.4 billion, in the space of 50 years turn 180 degrees and completely change its ideologies, its economy and its position in relation to the rest of the world? I guess while Europe, The USA and the Middle East were all busy fighting with each other and searching for Osama and overthrowing Sadam, China was slowly building infrastructure, educating its people and investing in industry.
I can see why it has been so successful, people have a work hard ethic, they are smart and imaginative, there are resources here and labor is super cheap. I’m sure it’s interlaced with corruption and for sure, wealth is VERY unevenly distributed, the rich here are super rich, beyond even my imagination.
Anyone who doubts that China has the propensity to be the world’s next super power needs to come and spend a day in Shanghai. As my boss said today, Shanghai may potentially be the new centre of the world…..