Month: April 2018

Tailored clothes in Shanghai: Shopping at the Fabric Market

Tailored clothes in Shanghai: Shopping at the Fabric Market

I’ve been meaning to finish this blog post about the Fabric Market since last year and our last trip there was quite some time ago. I finally pulled together the pictures and took some of missing items, so here we go: better late then never πŸ™‚

The South Bund Soft Spinning Material Market

Ever since we first went, we have developed a little addiction to the Fabric Market, officially called the South Bund Soft Spinning Material Market. It is probably the best known market in Shanghai for getting tailor-made clothes, so there are many tourists here and the vendors speak English. The market has 3 stories with lots and lots of tailors and a few shops which sell scarves, belts and accessories. It’s open 7 days a week from 9 to 6.

The Fabric Market How to

I’d say there are 4 ways to get a piece if clothing made:

  • Bring something to copy
  • Bring a picture
  • Pick something there: either from the things on display or their catalogue
  • Describe what you want

I’ve had good results with all 4 strategies, but I think copying or picking something they have on display is the surest way to get the exact thing you want. For the other options it’s important to be as detailed and specific as possible.

The tailor usually shows you different fabrics and colors, based on what you want and then takes your measurements. If you get something copied they’ll probably skip the measuring unless you want some alterations to the sample.

Then the fun part starts: Haggling. If you go with someone, you can usually just get the price they paid previously. Some stores don’t haggle at all, most do a little, and others a lot. Typically you can get a better price if you buy several things and if you are a repeat customer. The craziest “discount” I’ve seen was Ellie paying 500 for a dress with a starting price of 2200 RMB. So if you are/look like a foreigner make sure you are not getting ripped off too much. I’m assuming we still overpay but hopefully not by a lot.

After you agree on a price you pay a deposit, usually 50-70% of the price. We always use WeChat or Alipay. I’m sure cash is fine, too and some stores take credit cards but probably not all.

They normally take a week to make the clothes and then you go back to try them on and discuss alterations if necessary. Once you’re satisfied you pay the balance and that’s it πŸ™‚

It was a little overwhelming going there the first time – how do you choose? – but now we have a few stalls we like and keep going back to. Here is a little overview of “our” tailors.

Faye Design – Booth 127

During our first trip to the fabric market we accompanied someone we met at an InterNations brunch and she took us to Faye Design on the first floor. We have been back many times since and kept bringing friends, so the prices have slowly decreased further and further. This is what we’ve bought so far:

Pants: 190 RMB (25 Euro).Β I brought my favorite pair of pants I wear to work all the time and had them copied a total of 4 times now in different colors. I made one bad fabric choice (sometimes it’s hard to tell how it will come out when you just have a small sample) but all the other ones are great. We started out here at 210 RMB but last time Ellie and I went and got a better price because we ordered 5 pairs together.

Dresses: 360 – 400 RMB (46 – 52 Euro): I picked a work dress out of their catalogue and got another summer dress based on a picture I brought with me. After that turned out great I ordered it again in pink and also in black with long sleeves. I paid 400 for the first 2 dresses but after coming again and again (and bringing them new customers), I got the price down to 360.

T-Shirts: Thorben wanted a few T-Shirts in a heavy fabric in the perfect length. They sketched it based on his description and after altering once he’s very happy with them.

Stitch & Co – Booth 2XX

Linda from Stitch & Co caught our attention by talking to us in German as we walked by. She knows all the important words like “massgeschneidert”, “Anzug” and “Hemd” (tailor-made, suit, shirt) and pronounces them like a pro. She really knows how to sell to you but was disappointed every time Thorben turned down getting an “Anzug” made.

Shirts: 130 RMB (17 Euro): Thorben got basic white button down shirt from her which fits nicely. However, another booth is a bit cheaper (see below) and we couldn’t tell a difference in quality, so we go there now.

Chinos: 220 RMB (29 Euro): Another pretty good buy. We didn’t have a picture or sample but they turned out nice.

Trench Coats: 500 RMB (65 Euro): I’ve been wanting a classic beige trench coat and Linda had one on display I really liked, so I ordered one. Ellie got a slightly longer one in green and a few weeks after me and I’m thinking I also might need another one πŸ™‚

Booth 146

Winter coat: 800 RMB (104 Euro):Β  Thorben saw a nice coat in this booth and got it in a different color.

Shirts: 110 RMB (14 Euro): Shirts are the main attraction at this booth and and Thorben has bought 5 so far. You can pick the fit, the cuffs and color and of course the fabric. They fit perfectly on the first try, so we had the second order delivered for just 10 RMB. The only downside to the shirts is that the fabric is not non-iron.

Booth 272

Skirt: 350 RMB: Ellie got a shirt here, I don’t have a picture but its the same style as the dresses you can see in the back of the store and the one she bought.

Dress: 500 RMB (65 Euros): This was the crazy haggling I mentioned. Ellie got them down from 2200. Having already bought a skirt there for 350 I have no idea how they thought she’d pay 2200.

Ling – Booth 217

Jeans: 190 RMB (25 Euro): Thorben had a pair of jeans copied which was a bit of a pain because they had to alter them twice so they would fit. He also didn’t pick a good fabric, so I think his won’t be worn much. Ellie also got some copied and she was really happy with the result so I decided to give it a go. I didn’t bring anything to copy and just said i wanted skinny jeans. They turned out great and are in a super comfy, stretchy fabric. I wear them to travel because they feel like sweatpants, to the office on Fridays and also anywhere else. They’re my favorite “jeans” by far, I need another pair.

Tom’s Leather Shop – Booth 270

Leather Jacket (male) cow leather: 1350 RMB (175 Euro):Β Thorben has been looking for a brown leather jacket for a while but hasn’t found one he likes so he decided to get his black one copied. He picked a very heavy cow leather. They did an excellent job, every little detail is the same, except the lining is not cotton as it is in the original one.

Leather jacket (female) sheep leather: 960 RMB (125 Euro):Β Ellie also bought a leather jacket at the same store and picked one they had on display to be made in her size. I don’t know if the price difference is because of the different leather, different cut (requiring less material) or her superior haggling skills. Maybe a bit of each.

Tokyo: The Food Edition

Tokyo: The Food Edition

Here is the run down on all our Tokyo food experiences:

Sushi

We started and ended our trip with sushi. On our first day we headed over to “Umegaoka Sushi No Midori”, which was highly recommended online. The place was really popular, even on a Thursday at 2:30 pm we had to wait for 45 minutes to get a table. The sushi was very pretty and yummy though πŸ™‚

On our last day we went to Sushizanmai, a big, popular chain. At 10:30 am we already had the first sushi in front of us, no wait on a Monday morning πŸ™‚ The place was pretty empty, so we sat at the counter and watched the masters work.

Making our own Sushi

Another Airbnb experience: a sushi class with a Japanese sushi master. We met Nori and 2 other participants at a grocery store where he showed us all the necessary stuff to make sushi. We then went to his apartment and made nigiri and maki sushi. He was really strict about the technique – a real sushi master has to train for 8 years after all – and made us practice on playdough first πŸ™‚ I didn’t take many pictures because of fishy hands but thankfully our host was on it πŸ™‚

Tsukiji Fish Market Food Tour

The Tsukiji Fish Market will be relocated in October so we were lucky we still got the see the old building and craziness happening inside. I booked a tour through Ninja Food Tours that included lots of tastings and it was really fun! First we had a chicken, egg and rice dish and then really started the tour. The market also has a big wholesale vegetable and fruit portion and we had some yummy strawberries there. Pretty fruit is considered a nice gift but we passed on the 50 USD cherry box and 60 USD mango πŸ˜‰

We also checked out all the crazy fish and sea food of the inner market and then had ate at the outer market. The place is huge and busy so I’m really glad we went with a guide who knew what he was doing. We had sweet omelette on a stick as a palate cleanser, then an amazing tuna bowls, pork dumplings, some matcha drinks, tried some dried fish candies and finally had a mochi strawberry dessert.

Kobe Beef

For Thorben’s Birthday we went to a kobe beef restaurant and indulged in a dinner with 8 courses, 7 of which included beef. We ate it grilled, baked, fried, marinated, raw, inside a dumpling … It was delicious πŸ™‚

Tokyo: Temples, Shrines and Blossoms

Tokyo: Temples, Shrines and Blossoms

Last Thursday was Qingming Festival, or tomb-sweeping day, which meant that on Thursday, Friday and Saturday the office was closed. To make up for the Friday off, Sunday was a working day. Not for us though because we extended the 3 day weekend by two more days and flew to Tokyo for some sightseeing, food and to celebrate Thorben’s birthday πŸ™‚

Comedy and the Golden Turd

On our first night we went to the comedy show “Get a comedian’s take on life in Japan”, the first Airbnb experience I’ve ever booked. It was a pretty funny show about Japan, the way of life, history and culture. Most importantly, Meshida explained the “interesting” golden statue we’d seen on our walk there. Apparently, the building is a brewery, the statue is from a French artist, the plan was to put up three of them upright, and it’s supposed to be a flame. Now it’s known as the golden poo or golden turd. Gotta love Tokyo πŸ™‚

Sensō-ji Temple

After the show we walked over to the Sensoji Temple, the oldest Buddhist temple in Tokyo. The temple and the five-story pagoda are lit up beautifully at night.

Free Walking Tour

Friday morning we did a free walking tour. We started in Akihabara, where the Electronic Town (aka a cluster of lots of nerdy shops) is and then went to the Yushima Seido temple with a big statue of Confucius. Next, we went to the Kanda shrine. There, we learned how to make a wish/pray at a shrine: First, you bow once, then you throw a coin into the donation box, clap twice (to wake up the Gods), make your wish and then bow twice. Afterwards, we wandered through Ameyoko shopping street and finished at Ueno Park.

Meiji Shrine & Harajuku Free Walking Tour

After a morning at the fish market (more on that in another post) we did another free walking tour in a different part of Tokyo. We learned a lot about the early history of Tokyo, back when it was called Edo, and the Samurai and Emperor still ruled. Half the tour we spent visiting the Meiji Shrine and even saw a wedding party leaving. Then we went to crazy Takeshita Street which is mostly tailored to kids and teenagers and saw the old Olympic stadium.

Shibuya

We went to Shibuya for 2 things: to see the Hachiko statue and the Shibuya crossing/pedestrian scramble. The guide book called it the Times Square of Tokyo and it’s supposed to be a one of the busiest intersections. It wasn’t as crazy on a Sunday morning but Hachiko was still very cute πŸ™‚

Photography walk

Another Airbnb experience I booked was a photography tour with a local guide. We went to a lot of different scenic places and Thorben and our guide switched cameras a couple times. Maybe Thorben will upload some of of the pictures later but for now it’s just the ones from my iPhone πŸ™‚

We first went to the observation deck at the Tokyo Government building, then to a close by small shrine, Tokyo station, the Imperial Palace East Garden and finally the Nezu Shrine. While 80% of the cherry blossoms were already gone (they were a couple weeks early this year), we caught some of the late bloomers on the way to the Imperial Palace and lots of other pretty flowers. Especially the azalea (a rhododendron species) at the Nezu shrine were beautiful.

In case you’re wondering where all the food pictures are … I’ll discuss that in detail in a separate postΒ  πŸ™‚

Shanghai Spring and a trip to the Botanical Garden

Shanghai Spring and a trip to the Botanical Garden

It’s spring in Shanghai! This winter was definitely the shortest I’ve ever had, another great thing about living in Shanghai. (I’ll just try to forget about the crazy heat and humidity coming up πŸ™‚ ) For the past 10 days we’ve had really nice weather with 20-26 degrees, lots of sunshine and pretty spring blossoms.

Jing’An spring flowers

To take advantage of this we took a walk around our neighborhood Saturday morning. The platane trees are growing leaves again and there are lots of flowers and trees blooming in the streets and little parks around us.

Shanghai Botanical Garden

Sunday I headed to the Botanical Garden. Though I got a bit lost and it took me over an hour to get there is was worth it πŸ™‚

They had lots of beautiful flowers and everything was already really green.

My main reason for going, was to see the blossoming trees and it was really amazing. It looks like we will miss the cherry blossoms during our upcoming Japan trip so luckily I already got my fix πŸ™‚ Spring is officially my favorite season in Shanghai.