Described as a “palace-like underground world” by users who were invited to check out the mall during the preview on China’s popular social commerce platform Xiaohongshu, SKP Chengdu is located north of the ring expressway in the high-tech zone on Tianfu Avenue, the new central business district south of the old-town part of the provincial capital of Sichuan, where major luxury retailers Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li and Chengdu IFS are located.
Unlike its surrounding high-rise buildings and the New Century Global Center across the street, which is touted as the world’s largest building measured by floor space, SKP Chengdu is designed to look like a park, with 33 crafted landscapes and scenic spots and only a few shops visible on the ground floor level. Some 99 percent of the mall is hidden underground.
A spokesperson from SKP said the complex was created “to challenge every expectation, standard and rule of luxury retailing in terms of craft, quality, innovation, entertainment, engineering and sustainability,” as it wanted the Chengdu branch to be “unlike anything experienced anywhere in the universe.”
On top of aiming to become “one of the largest and most impressive luxury fashion retail centers in the world” invisible to the human eye, the company said it decided to go for a sunken-style mall because it “wished to honor Chengdu’s nature and humanity.”
As a result, more than 75 percent of the buildings have 1.5 meters of soil above them to help accommodate and assist with vegetation. “We were able to use this soil to create a giant tapestry of gardens — 3/4 km long, 1/3 km wide — as a gift to the people of Chengdu,” the spokesperson added.
Masterminded by Sybarite, the same architecture firm behind the transformation of the SKP-S building in Beijing, and in collaboration with a dozen of engineering specialists, the 500,000-square-meter complex covers five floors with spaces spanning 12 meters below ground, with more than 2,400 parking spaces. Multiple metro lines cross under SKP Chengdu, including line 18, direct to Tianfu International Airport.
The retail and shopping space is divided into four areas: the luxury-filled Chengdu SKP; the younger-positioned and highly experiential Chengdu SKP-S; K Avenue, where major luxury flagships are located, and G Avenue, with some of the most in-demand restaurant brands. The avenues are 250 meters long each.
The most notable landmark on the ground is a series of lantern-like towering water beacon sculptures on the south side of the complex, called “The Tower of Life.” During the holiday period, there is also a Dior pop-up for the resort 2023 collection with a giant Christmas tree next to the square-shaped glass grand entrance in the middle of the development.
More than 1,300 brands are set to be in SKP Chengdu, and for more than 200 of them, the location will be their first store in Sichuan. All major luxury players are present. Gucci, Dior and Prada will open their third or fourth stores in the city here.
Around a quarter of the tenants, including Louis Vuitton, Jil Sander, Moncler, Gentle Monster, Diesel, Marni, Tiffany & Co., and Boucheron, open for business by Tuesday. The rest, including Chanel, Hermès and Fendi, will open in the coming months.
On Xiaohongshu, most users were amazed by the scale of the sunken mall. Some were impressed with the abundance of product selections, and the good mix of shops and cafes in each area. Some advised that one should wear sneakers instead of heels when shopping here, and that given the sheer size of the mall, finding one particular brand would be more challenging than usual.
Known for operating the world’s most profitable mall SKP Beijing, the luxury retailer, owned by Beijing Hualian Group, also operates a location in Xi’an. It has unveiled plans to open additional locations in Wuhan, Guangzhou, Kunming, Hohhot and Hangzhou in the near future.