Monday, July 23, 2012

Shanghai Shopaholic Take Two!

One of my biggest fears before moving to Shanghai was that I would not find any cute clothes that would fit me.  I am not the smallest person on the block, and Chinese sizes run snug.  (For example, Chris normally wears an XL knit shirts in the US.  In China, he has to buy 4XL.)  So before I left for Shanghai, I had a shopping spree in the states.  

Three months and 7384 miles later, the retail therapy bug bit me hard. My mission: I needed a couple of cool, cute dresses. Luckily, I did not have to travel far to come across a place that changed my view of clothes shopping forever: the South Bund Fabric Market.

Welcome to fabric heaven my friends!

As I arrived at the warehouse, I was skeptical.  Outside of the place were junk dealers pawning jewelry, bags, electronics, shoes, and other miscellaneous odds and ends.  I took a deep breath, walked through the industrial plastic door flaps and entered a fabric paradise.  All I could see was aisles and aisles of beautiful silks, cottons, wools, cashmeres, sequins, and seamstresses who were ready to stich up whatever I wanted. 

Pick your prom dress!

The market is home to  hundreds of stalls similar to the one shown here.
Look in here dance moms!!

After my initial fabric shock, I decided to make a few laps around the three floors to check out the goods.  I meandered among the suits, dresses and scarves and settled on a vendor who was putting the final touches on a darling little black dress.  I stepped inside the booth to take a closer look. 

“May I help you lady?” asked the tailor.

“I am looking to have a dress made, however I am not sure as to what I want yet.”  I replied.  I had no idea where to start with this process.

“Okay I help you.”  She started pulling books of dress pictures and swatches of materials so I could figure out what I wanted.  The combinations were endless.  I could have anything from a Chinese Cheongsam to an Audrey Hepburn number in any fabric I wanted!  This was going to be fun.

After I settled on a style and fabric, and the bargain wars began.  For those of you who keep up with the blog, setting a price for clothing is very similar to the negotiating game I played at the Honqiao Pearl Market last spring.  The tailor would type in a number into an ancient calculator.  I would type my counter offer.  After a few more tai guile’s and pleases we would settle on a price.  Then, I got measured for my new dress, placed half of the money down, and went on my merry way.    

One week later, I get exactly what I asked for!  (At a VERY cheap price!)

Here is one of the final products.

Chris checks out different jacket styles.

Then he gets measured for a new jacket.

This is the way to shop for clothes!