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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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. Iโ€™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 youโ€™re satisfied you pay the balance and thatโ€™s it ๐Ÿ™‚

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).ย 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

Booth 146

Winter coat: 800 RMB (104 Euro):ย  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):ย 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):ย 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.

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