Getting a Tailor Made Piece in Shanghai

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Here’s a confession: there’s nothing I enjoy more than having the opportunity to create and design my own clothes!  When I found out there were several fabric markets in Shanghai that does tailor pieces to order I was enthralled.

I’ve had a custom piece made in Hoi An, Vietnam before, but that didn’t turn out to be an entirely pleasant experience – you can find out why here. This time around, I was determined to learn from my mistakes and leave with something nothing short of fabulous.

A quick online search and I learned ShiLiu Pu Cloth Market was the one I wanted to visit first. Compared to the South Bund Fabric Market, it’s much smaller and is known to work with local customers more.

ShiLiu Pu Cloth Market

Bouncing into the ShiLiu Pu Cloth Market with high hopes, I soon realized the market was very specialized and catered specifically for several items: cashmere coats, men and women’s business suits, dress shirts and Qipaos, the traditional Chinese dress.

Furthermore, after chatting with the merchants, I also learned customers at this market generally only purchased the fabric. The tailors here were exceptionally expensive here and only visitors hire them.

A bit deflated but still not ready to give up hope yet, I stopped at a stall that looked like they had something inline with what I wanted. The lady working at the stall was really nice, but after explaining my idea and showing pictures of what I wanted for over half an hour, I was still skeptical if my thoughts were getting through. On top of that, she didn’t install much confidence in me since she didn’t write a single note down!

I decided to call it a day and try my luck at the South Bund Fabric Market instead.

South Bund Fabric Market

Spread out between two large warehouse buildings across the street from each other, the Fabric Market is a mission to get through! One of the buildings is a lot quieter than the other and seems to cater to local, regular clients. Merchants barely had any samples hanging in front of the stalls here and nobody even bothered greeting me.

 

The second building clearly caters to foreign buyers, with most merchants speaking English and ready to sell. There’s barely any fabric rolls here, instead, you’ll find lots and lots of samples and designs to choose from. I was also surprised to find the initial quotes here were a lot lower than the ShiLiu Pu Cloth Market. On top of that, customer service was a lot better. Sellers here were willing to go above and beyond to make a sell, like shipping it to your hotel or agreeing to do rush orders for no extra costs.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t really in the market for cashmere coats or suit jackets at the time and ended up leaving empty handed again. Though, it’s something I’d highly consider if I’m ever back in the area looking for those items!

Charm Tip

Merchants in Shanghai don’t appear very comfortable working from sketches or pictures. Instead, they seem to prefer copying or replicating from their own designs or tactile examples brought in.

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