Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Going Under Cover

A La Perla boutique in Beijing selling lingerie that have become hot in  China
What do basements and lingerie have in common?

They are the new must-haves in China's "new normal".

With Chinese President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption drive continuing with no end in sight, people are spending their dollars literally underground -- as inconspicuously as possible.

The word these days is that rich businessmen and officials are digging basements in their homes, or if they already have one, to renovate it to become their new playroom or dining area to host guests.

An illegal basement caused neighbouring homes to collapse
That's because there's a new campaign encouraging regular folk to take pictures of those who seem to be dining beyond their means in the hopes of identifying and tracking them down. But with a basement, the uber rich can still have their abalone and shark's fin without prying eyes condemning them for their lavish tastes.

Come to think of it, former Hong Kong chief executive contender Henry Tang Ying-yen was probably onto something when he -- oops we mean his wife -- designed a massive basement under their Kowloon Tong home to include a wine-tasting room, cinema, changing room and a gym...

That led to the beginning of the end of Tang's chances to become Hong Kong's top dog. He can comiserate with a Chinese businessman and city legislator in Beijing who got into trouble late last month when he was building an illegal basement 18 metres deep that caused his neighbours' houses to collapse.
Henry Tang and his wife Lisa Kuo faced scrutiny

Major boo-boo.

Not only did the construction workers not have a permit, but also no project supervisor or even architectural plans. The neighbours are now homeless.

Meanwhile the anti-corruption campaign has also resulted in consumers shunning luxury brand outerwear and instead focusing on what they're wearing underneath.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting strong sales for $300 bras and other underwear. Previously people would not shell out for items others would not be able to see, but now lingerie is a hot commodity. High-end brand La Perla saw a 42 percent jump in sales last year in its stores in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and recently the brand opened a shop for men selling $200 silk boxers and $3,000 silk robes.

Expensive lingerie is the new bling...
Young women who have worked for a few years don't mind splashing out for expensive underwear -- perhaps finding it sexy to wear something luxurious underneath that no one else knows about?

Looks like everyone's going underground or underneath to hide their wealth -- above board or ill-gotten.

Perhaps we'll soon be seeing bras studded with diamonds, or boxers in gold thread soon?


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