Special article for Retail Detail.
|GUM corporate logo|
With such an abundance of luxury, it’s no wonder that some of the world’s most luxurious shopping is now done in Moscow, with the largest shopping centre being GUM Trading House. GUM (pronounced like “doom” with a “g”, but far more pleasant) is located in Red Square and close to St. Basil’s Cathedral, situating it in perhaps the single most prominent and immediately recognizable area in all of Russia. The acronym “GUM” is derived from the Cyrillic “ГУМ”, meaning “State Department Store”, and was originally built as a shopping mall with an astonishing 1,200 stores housed within its walls. During Stalin’s reign, it was initially converted into an office and it even displayed his wife’s body following her suicide in 1932. Grim. Eventually, GUM was converted back into a department store and became one of the few well-stocked shops in the nation, given its centrality and its location next to the Kremlin. (Yes, Lenin is likely turning over in his grave next door.) Of the many state department stores, the one in Red Square stands alone today and remains the most iconic.
|GUM, in all its glory. Note original architecture preserved.|
|GUM promenade, lit up at night|
Fashionistas and even casual luxury brand admirers (such as this writer) are surrounded by a nearly obscene number of designer brands with stand-alone boutiques, such as Armani, Sonia Rykiel, Burberry, Hugo Boss, Dior, Hermes and Frey Willie. Luxury brand names populate their retail spaces with considerable amounts of haute couture, in addition to their second lines and prêt-a-porter collections. The Russian designer Valentin Yudashkin, whose haute couture works are so innovative and coveted that they have been on display both at Paris Fashion Week and at the Louvre, has one of his major shops here.
|Bosco Sport and Cheburashka, official mascot.|
|GUM dome, daytime|
To truly showcase its prominent location, it is best to see GUM in the winter months. Despite the deep freeze, crowds often form to view skating exhibitions performed on an enormous outdoor ice rink by the country’s numerous Olympic and world figure skating champions. GUM is particularly festive during the New Year, traditionally Russia’s single biggest holiday, and it is lit up year-round as evidenced by the thousands of lights that beautifully trade the long building’s unique architecture against the night sky. For an English-language video of GUM during the holidays, click here:
|GUM - exterior view at night|
The English-language news site Russia Today has a channel dedicated to the nightlife of the capital called "Moscow Out", hosted by British expat Martyn Andrews. He featured GUM a few months ago and mentioned that the best bargains on designer names can be had each January, after the New Year, and not on Boxing Day or in the week after Christmas. Click for a glimpse into GUM and into other shopping excursions in the Russian capital:
GUM is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. most weekdays and on Saturdays, and on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is easily accessible via the gorgeous Moscow Metro. Simply take the red line to Okhotny Ryad, which stops right at the Kremlin.
GUM English site: http://www.gum.ru/en/