Shanghai is a city that has rich and vibrant historic links with the trade of fabrics and textiles. From its proximity to the ancient Silk Road trading routes to its development as a major trade port during the Qing Dynasty, and from the influx of foreigners and colonial fashions following the First Opium War to its modern day position as China’s style capital, the trade of fabrics has always been central to life in the city.
Get yourself a nice suit. Photo: theage
Nowadays those living in Shanghai are almost spoiled when it comes to clothing options. There are the fake markets where you can pick up that ‘Rolph Larin’ polo you’ve always wanted. There are the outlet stores for Western brands where you can get ripped off in stylish surroundings. And then there are stores that sell ‘Chinese fashion’ from which you can emerge looking like you’ve stumbled backwards through the 90s.
To be honest, Shanghai offers up a much better solution to your clothing needs in the form of its superabundance of tailors. There are literally thousands just waiting to make you some custom made clothes that are only a fraction of what they might cost back home.
Below are some of the best places to go for all of your couturier requirements.
1) Cloth Markets
There are numerous cloth markets dotted around the city. The South Bund Fabric Market is Shanghai’s biggest, and perhaps most popular destination for tailor made clothing, featuring three floors of hustling and bustling activity, as well as numerous outfitters in the surrounding streets. The Shi Liu Pu Cloth Market is almost as big but can be a bit less frenetic if that’s not your thing.
That’s a lot of fabric. Photo: donnamanley
The price, the selection of fabrics and the quality of workmanship can vary considerably between stalls, so it’s worthwhile spending some time shopping around or getting a recommendation for a specific tailor from a friend. It may also be worthwhile providing tailors with a sample shirt, jacket or dress for them to copy from or to use as a basis for your outfit. Obviously be prepared to negotiate with animated wild gesticulations. But never forget it is often a well-timed ‘fake walk away’ that closes a deal for a price you are comfortable with.
Shanghai South Bund Fabric Market 南外滩轻纺面料市场 View In Map
Add: 399 Lujiabang Lu, near Zhongshan Nan Lu, Huangpu District, Shanghai
Opening hours: Daily, 10:00-18:00
Shanghai Shi Liu Pu Cloth Market 十六铺轻纺面料市场 View In Map
Add: 168 Dongmen Lu, near Zhongshan Dong Lu
Opening hours: Daily, 10:00-18:00
2) Bespoke Tailors
While the cloth markets offer up a great range of tailoring choices to fit any and every budget, if you’re searching for high-end tailoring that wouldn’t look out of place on Savile Row, it may be worthwhile checking out Shanghai’s growing range of bespoke outfitters. Generally speaking, Dave’s Custom Tailoring and W.W. Chan & Sons have a reputation for high quality workmanship, but there are an ever-increasing number of bespoke outfitters around the city. Established fashion brands are getting in on the action too; Louis Vuitton, Alfred Duhill, Ermenegildo Zegna and others, have all got bespoke tailoring services at their Shanghai locations.
Tailor back in the day. Photo: tailordave
Back in the 1920s and 1930s, Shanghai was renowned for the world-class quality of its Western style garment makers, known as Hongbang Cai Feng (Red Group Tailors). Following almost a century of social change, most of these traditional tailors have since moved to Taiwan and Hong Kong; it is rumoured that fewer than 100 are remaining in Shanghai. However, if you can find one, it can be great way to get a finely crafted bespoke suit together with a unique piece of Shanghainese history. 靠前
Dave’s Custom TailoringView In Map
Add: No. 6, 288 Wuyuan Lu, near Wukang Lu, Shanghai
Tel: 021 5404 0001
Opening hours: Daily, 09:00-18:00
W.W. Chan & Sons Tailor View In Map
Add: Shop A-02, 129 Maoming Nan Lu, near Huaihai Zhong Lu, Shanghai
Tel: 021 5404 1469
Opening hours: Daily, 10:00-22:00
3) Home Service Tailors
If you’re too stylish to even leave your apartment, don’t worry. The all-encompassing expat love of ordering-in has extended to the world of fashion, with high-end (and not so high-end) tailoring available for delivery. It means that the process of selecting fabrics, choosing a design, and garment fittings, can all be completed from the comfort of your living room. There are a bunch of tailors that offer this service but, as with all things tailor made, a recommendation from a friend is often advisable.
Simply put, the best way to look cool on the streets of Shanghai is with the help of a good tailor and as you can see there are plenty to choose from.
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Keywords: tailor made clothes Shanghai stylish clothes Shanghai finding a tailor Shanghai bespoke tailors Shanghai
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