Whilst everyone is crazy about Xiangyang market, few know about the other market - the fabric and tailor market where you can pick the material you want and get custom made shirts and business suits for a tenth of the cost that you would get it for in most of the western countries.
We heard about this market not long after we arrived in Shanghai from some expats who have lived here for years. They raved about how cheap it is to get a custom made suit for only RMB500 - 700 and to get a business shirt for RMB150 - 200. The best method is to take an example of your clothes and get the tailor to copy it, that way you make sure the style is right (everyone knows Chinese people are good at copying stuff).
Eventually we managed to go to the market the other day and found it to be in one of the oldest areas of Shanghai near the Bund, old rundown houses serve the shop front, constantly you would notice filthy kitchens and gross smells from inside. Despite this, business in the market is prosperous. We went there on the weekends - lots of Chinese and Western people alike were looking around picking their favourite material and getting their customised clothes made. It is not as crowded as in Xiangyang market and nobody constantly comes up to you trying to sell you something. You can just take your time strolling around.
The one thing they share with Xiangyang market is the double - standard pricing system, ie., higher price for foreigners and lower price for Chinese people (sometimes even lower price for local Shanghai people). Every time when I ask about material price, they say "for you I don't ask too much, if it were him (referring to Brad), I would ask at least twice as much.) As a result we came back with a great sense of triumph - for a total of RMB510 we got Brad a wool business suit with an extra pair of pants; the price includes the wool material , the lining material and the cost of making.
The lead time is about a week. The following week we picked up the clothes - Brad was very happy with the quality - they did exactly what he requested. However so far from our experiences, they are good at copying men's clothes, but not women's. Maybe women's clothes require more skill of tailoring in terms of style , design and details which they do not understand.
So if you need to get some business clothes, a good place is the Fabric and Tailor market. Don't forget to haggle prices and you had better bring your own examples for them to copy (but there is plenty of books to choose styles out of).
It is also a good place to discover another side of Shanghai - opposite to the modern skyscrapers and shopping centres, it is old, rundown and smelly. A few taxi drivers told me that part of the market has actually moved to a place near Nanpu Bridge (Lu Jia Bang Road) , the current market will be demolished soon for new constructions for 2010 World Expo. It looks like that our next mission is to find out where is the new market.
The current market address is: Dong Jia Du Road & Weitan (the Bund). You will need to walk up Dong Jia Du and look down the alley ways. Once you start to see lots of awnings and bolts of cloth hanging around - you know you have made it.
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