Wing On

Shanghai has always been the place where new developments where brought to China. Department stores were one of the main features, starting to populate Nanking Road from 1913. Wing On was the third shop to open in 1918 after Whiteaway Laidlaw & Co (1913) and Sincere (1917). It was created by the Kwok family, originaly from Guangzhou that had to moved to Australia and operated fruit stores there. They saw a great opportunity when moving to Shanghai. Wing On was clearly one of the most influential department stores in China, setting the trend for others in Shanghai such as Karoly Gonda designed Sun Sun and Art deco wonder Sun Dept store, as well as in other cities in China. Fortunately, the Wing On building still exists and is still a department store and the shop is now called Wing On again.

Wing On department store in 1930s

The exterior has been recently renovated, making it once again one of the stars of Nanjing Road. An additional building was erected in the 1930s next to the original one. The base is relatively small, but it is topped by an Art Deco tower that was dominating Shanghai sky. It also has a shopping center on the bottom (now hosting a massive Giordano shop), with an hotel above it. Both buildings are linked by two bridges that do not seem to be used anymore.

Wing On extension

Unfortunately, renovation of the interior of both buildings has left very little of the original construction. They look just the same as the brand new shopping centers built in other parts of the city. The old time spirit has been completely lost, though the 4th and 5th floor have been turned into the great Qian Xiang Fang restaurant (now closed… too bad). Wing On and Sincere (the opposite department store) used to feature various animals and displays to attract people to the shops. Wing On seems to have restarted the trend, as they had 3 peacocks and a few other birds in a large cage in front of the shop in early March this year. This was attracting a lot of attention from people passing by, renewing an old tradition.

5 thoughts on “Wing On”

  1. I am looking for a photo to buy, get printed, get copied (even painted). Since seeing it in Urban Planning Museum en the museum under the Pearl Tower (Shanghai History Museum), this picture has stayed on our minds. It is a picture of Nanjing road, with Sincere Co and Wing On co. on both sides.Down the road on the right you can see a foreigner coming toward you, being carried on a rikshaw. there are a lot of flags hanging form the shops with chinese characters. If you recognize this photo, you would do me a huge favor telling me where I could buy a copy. thank you very much.

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