The best Chinese designers, traditional home wares, retro memorabilia, bespoke tailoring and more. The best of shoppping and things to buy in Shanghai
Shop Chinese fashion designers before they hit the catwalk
Chinese fashion is the future and it won’t be long before those designers currently carried in a couple of local boutiques will be regular fixtures at international fashion weeks around the globe – with a corresponding hike in the price of their collections. Now’s the time to invest in a one-off piece of clothing or a statement accessory by young Chinese designers such as Helen Lee, Chictopia, Gao Yuan, Ricostru, Vega Zaishi Wang, Xander Zhou or CHairEYES, all of whom can be found at Dong Liang Studio, InShop Gallery or Xintiandi Style.
Buy blue nankeen homewares
For wow-factor home deco items that you won’t be able to pick up in IKEA (and may soon be unavailable in Shanghai itself) stop by the Blue Nankeen Museum on Changle Lu. They stock everything from huge wall hangings to cushion covers, coasters, silk scarves and toys in iconic blue-and-white print (from just 5RMB), all created on the premises using an ancient indigo hand-dying technique. You can also buy cloth by the metre to make your own design at a local tailor’s or the fabric market.
Get some custom tailoring
Custom tailoring is one of the joys of Shanghai and while most people will have dabbled at one of the city’s two fabric markets, it’s worth splashing out a bit more cash for a high-quality, bespoke suit that will stand the test of time. For classic tailoring, we’re big fans of the Hong Kongese Times Tailor, in the Jinjiang Hotel, 59 Maoming Lu, near Changle Lu, (two suits, three shirts and two ties for 5,900RMB), while for more modern European styles, Germain Tailor’s suits start from 2,500RMB.
Get your feet into retro Shanghai kicks
An iconic Shanghai brand, Feiyues are the obvious footwear choice here. First hitting the streets in the 1920s, Feiyues were originally designed for wushu (martial arts) and were worn by coolies and politicians alike. In the mid-2000s, the shoes saw a resurgence after a French company bought the rights to sell them internationally and turned Feiyue into a cult brand sold in boutiques from Paris to New York.
For bargain basement originals from 35RMB, check out the small Feiyue and Warrior factory outlet shop at 585-1 Zunyi Lu, near Yunwushan Lu, Changning district, or for a more central location head to Culture Matters, a tiny cupboard sized space that stocks an impressive range of Feiyue shoes in the original style as well as more modern high tops and bright colour options. Alternatively try two more under-the-radar options, the Warriors and Shulong – costing from 50-100RMB. At these prices you can probably afford a pair and a spare of all of them.
Pick up some modern ceramics
For beautiful, minimalist pottery that’s a world away from twee traditional tea-sets, a trip to Spin is a must. All products are designed and made in-house and there’s something for every budget, from the ‘Kung Fu six forms’ miniature vases (320RMB, with wooden box and tray) to a tulip candle holder (200RMB) or the bone-fragment shaped archaeologist chopstick rest set (200RMB/eight). The dim sum paper weights, presented in a bamboo steamer (60RMB/one, 280RMB/five) make for a fun memento.
Dig for retro memorabilia on Dongtai Lu
When you’re living in Shanghai, those dubious Chinese ‘antiques’ and Communist-era knick-knacks on sale at Dongtai Lu market can feel a bit naff. Taken out of a local setting, however, Mao figurines, wind-up alarm clocks, flower-painted Thermos flasks and vintage pin-up posters suddenly acquire retro-kitsch appeal - you’ll want to give them pride of place in your new home.
Perfect your dinner with Chinese cookware
To recreate your favourite Chinese dishes at home, you need the right equipment. Although you can no longer find traditional hand-beaten woks in Shanghai, there’s a decent selection (from 21.20RMB) at the Hotel Supplies Market, where you can also pick up authentic bamboo steamers (6.90RMB).