Continuing with the shanzhai tourism theme, there’s been a good deal of chatter recently about a new shanzhai shopping street near Wanda Square in Shenyang. The street, built as a ‘European style pedestrian street,’ features shanzhai designer-brand boutiques and cafés. The shop names are all classic shanzhai wordplay: CNANEL, HERWÈS, PRΛDΛ, Cairter, Tifeany, Standard Chertered Bank, Starbocks, Häagen-Dezs.
Some pictures were posted on Offbeat China for our enjoyment. It’s worth noting that the Offbeat China post plays up the ‘shocking’ nature of such blatant fakery – reminding us of the usual Western reaction to China’s shanzhai culture – but also pointing out that even many within China found the street ‘shocking.’ That, at least, is the gist of a Xinhua article about the street. But if you’re ‘shocked’ by shanzhai shops, you’ve kind of missed the point, I think. What’s ‘shocking’ is not the fake street in Shenyang, but the people who actually shop at the ‘real’ versions of these stores, paying thousands of dollars for clothing and accessories that are made in some of the same south China factories that fill the shelves of Wal-Mart and Target. That’s a ‘reality’ that seems harder to get my head around than the in-your-face fakery of shanzhai.