The best designer boutiques in Shanghai

Get kitted out for spring at these fashion-forward stores

Tired of Zara? H&M just hit and miss? Find your new wardrobe at these achingly cool boutiques, with clothes and accessories from a mixture of up-and-coming designers, local brands and well-established but hard-to-find international labels.

Contributors: Conner Bell, Helen Roxburgh, Amy Snelling.

Alter

Sourcing wares from fashion weeks and shows worldwide, this ultra-chic, multi- brand concept store in Xintiandi Style has been introducing Shanghai’s fashion forward to a different side of international haute couture since it opened in 2010. Championing labels that are less-known across China, founder and curator Sonja Long Xiao regularly seeks out fresh brands, bringing in new designers each season.

Alter is currently carrying the likes of artisanal Spanish label ANDRESGALLARDO that uses broken porcelain to create handbags and jewellery; Parisian brand Y/ Project that blurs the boundaries between men’s and women’s collections; and items from its in-house label Rolling Acid influenced by ’60s and ’70s subcultures. While the goods don’t come cheap, they won’t run you as much as luxury brands, but the looks are just as good. Refuel at the in-store Spread the Bagel as you go.

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245 Madang Lu

Culture Matters

Critics' pick

The retro-revival trend makes Shanghai’s cult sneaker brand Feiyue an obvious choice of footwear, and at Culture Matters you’ll find them in all shapes and styles. Selling originals at 80RMB, prices are a little higher than you’ll pay at the Feiyue Factory Outlet shop (38RMB; 585-1 Zunyi Lu, Changning district), but here you can take your pick from all kinds of looks and the latest seasonal offerings: ‘I HEART SH’ high-tops (133RMB); a collection hand-painted with traditional Chinese drawings (starting around 350RMB); and (at the of time of writing) a whole series of Star Wars sneakers.

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20 Taian Lu

Germain Tailors

One of our favourite men’s tailors in the city, you can pick up a swanky European- style bespoke suit at Germain Tailors from 3,600RMB. But what we’re digging right now are the bold, brightly coloured chino trousers and shorts (900RMB a pair).

As well as being custom-made to fit, Germain’s uses eco-dye to colour fabrics and has a Pantone guide of colours for you to choose from – not one for the indecisive, that’s over 1,000 shades to flick through. While you’re here, pick up some made-to-measure shirts from 500RMB a pop. Thanks to an appointment-only policy, it’s all about you.

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Lane 560 Jianguo Xi Lu

Lolo Love Vintage

With ’70s prints, ’80s box-shoulders, shiny fabrics, kitten heels and more back big this season, Lolo Love Vintage should be at the top of your hit list. Carrying a carefully curated collection spanning 1910 through the 1980s, owner Lolo sources her wares from across Europe and the US and has a beautiful selection of women’s clothing, shoes and accessories. Here, you’ll  find a number of throwback styles from the ’50s to the ’70s, with some great ’80s fashion in the mix too. Alternatively, only a ten-minute cycle away, Annata Vintage has a charming collection, with many pieces from 1920 through the ’60s.

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2 Yongfu Lu

Pawnstar

Encouraging sustainable attitudes towards shopping while making designer wear affordable, secondhand consignment shop Pawnstar is the place to shift your old wardrobe and find a whole new one – well, used one. The labels on offer are extensive, with items from the likes of Shanghai Tang, Chanel and Nicholas Kirkwood lining the racks and a sizable collection of jewellery, bags, ties, hats and shoes filling the rest of the space. Items that aren’t up to scratch for sale are upcycled by in-house designer Nisa or donated, but never wasted.

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64 64 Fenyang Lu

Project Aegis Co

A long-time favourite amongst Shanghai’s city slickers and trendsetters, menswear boutique Project Aegis has all the right parts in all the right places. Carrying mostly imported clothing and accessories from high-end North American and European brands, here you can pick up the likes of Rag & Bone, NSF, Naked & Famous, RAINS and more – you should also take a look at the store’s own in-house collection.

Threads aside, the two-storey flagship on Taojing Lu is worth a visit in its own right – it’s as stylish as the clothes themselves, with a seriously cool café on the first floor. Take advantage of the Dianping coffee and cake deal for 49RMB.

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1 Taojiang Lu

Sido

Angled as a 'lifestyle corner store' following the slogan 'we sell simple useful things', Yongkang Lu boutique Sido (士多) - the Cantonese for 'store' - is the passion project of Hong Kong-born designer Oway Lau. The small, understated store houses a charming mishmash collection of locally produced and imported goods including homeware, clothing, accessories and toiletries. With the aim of supporting local designers and entrepreneurs while remaining affordable, Lau handpicks items intended for daily use, from tote bags, purses and pumps to kitchenware, vases and plant pots. She also makes and sells her own all-natural candles, bath salts and perfumes. 

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60 Yongkang Lu

The Collection

For us with feet size 39 or above, the struggle can be real when it comes to buying shoes from boutiques in Shanghai. You’ve been practically laughed out of shops when asking for a size 41 and spent many a night soaking your new ballet flats in hot water to be able to stretch them out and ensure they don’t slice your Achilles tendon when you put them on the next day. Then, before you know it, you’re stuck wearing flip-flops in the middle of Shanghai winter, trudging to H&M to pick up a pair of shoes you really don’t want. Amirite? 

But there is an answer: The Collection. Set in Xuhui, The Collection offers up a whole slew of sizes in some of the cutest and fashion forward styles. Their motto? ‘Size Doesn’t Matter’. Amen.

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139 Anting Lu

Triple-Major

Hailing from Beijing, Triple-Major is an achingly cool indie outfit set in a gorgeous lane house on Shaoxing Lu. The multi-purpose creative studio offers up mens- and womenswear, funky accessories and an odd collection of design literature. Triple Major is home to hipster pieces from offbeat designers that are hard to find elsewhere in the city – including its own covet-worthy, kooky in-house label. True, most items aren’t cheap, but you just can’t put a price on style.

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Lane 25 Shaoxing Lu

Urban Tribe

Perfect your boho-chic wardrobe with a few statement pieces from Urban Tribe. With six locations in Shanghai, this unique shop is hardly a ‘backdoor boutique’, but definitely one to mention on this list.

Their collections are inspired by tribal people and Chinese minority groups and their traditional clothes. Urban Tribe offers a collection of eco-friendly, handmade pieces made of pure cotton, linen and hemp. In addition to one-of-a-kind pieces, they also offer up a range of jewellery, ceramics and home accents.

Urban Tribe also supports the training of tribal women to learn their traditional clothes-making techniques and to encourage them to wear these traditional clothing pieces in daily life.

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133 Fuxing Xi Lu

Xinlelu Boutique

When it comes to classy Shanghai boutiques, Xinlelu is a favourite. The independent Shanghai brand is run by fashionista and savvy businesswoman Yilei Wu, who has created a sleek womenswear store in Jingan and online. Specialising in quirky jewellery, unique bags and independent clothing brands, Xinlelu’s collection is carefully curated according to the shop's classic, sophisticated ‘Shanghai girl style’ – currently featuring the wares of Australian brand Keepsake and trendy New York line All Comes From Nothing. Pop into the small store or check out the all-too-tempting website to get yourself fitted out.

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414 Shaanxi Bei Lu

Zurita, Kerry Parkside

A project by Spanish designer Monica Muriel Zurita, this women’s fashion brand is on a mission. Part of the slow fashion movement, Zurita’s designs are made with sustainability in mind every step of the way, from using only natural materials and fibres (silk, bamboo, fish leather) to creating high-quality clothes in timeless and versatile styles to maximise wearability. 

With ‘community’ as part of its mantra, Zurita’s clothes are designed and handmade by artisans and prices are reasonable. New items are introduced to the Wulumuqi Lu boutique each week, and with only nine pieces per design, chances are you’ll score an individual look.

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1378 Huamu Lu

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