A subterranean, warren-like space in the bowels of Jingan Temple metro, first impressions of InShop aren’t that promising: entering via Line 7’s Changde Lu/Yanan Lu exit, you’re greeted by a nondescript hairdressers, a tacky tarot salon and a clutch of cheap-looking ‘professional’ make-up parlours. Yet venture further in, and you’ll be rewarded with a host of slick, glass-fronted boutiques, where glamorous types lounge on sofas under the mirrored ceiling, sipping lattes from the nearby Citta café.
Last month, InShop partnered with Shanghai Fashion Week to host a month-long pop-up showroom of rising local talent (a sadly low-key event which, according to several disgruntled designers, suffered from management’s refusal to publicise the space during soft opening).
Don’t fret if you missed out, though, many of the featured brands, including Helen Lee, Where What Who, May J, Content, The Thing and Heirloom have extended their leases, creating something of a mini-rival to Xintiandi Style.
While these designers are already well-known to Shanghai shoppers, there are enough fresh faces to make it worth the visit, including under the radar local brands previously only carried in multibrand stores, who have opened their first stand-alone boutiques here.
Take Liu2 (A02); they’ve been around for a decade but steered clear of the spotlight. Their simple, unstructured pieces in chiffon and jersey, digitally printed with skeletal trees and desolate landscapes, include a blue maxidress-cum-jumpsuit for 1,250RMB.
Also expanding to their own premises are local accessories brand Kraken (B08). Rough-grain leather, alligator and python skins sourced from Guangdong are crafted into money clips, clutches, backpacks and pyramid-shaped tissue holders, while they also offer a custom-made service (from 1,000RMB) if you’re looking for something more personal.
There’s a smattering of concept boutiques too, the strongest of which is new Shanghainese venture Chödrön (A01/A03), whose own line of Korean-inspired, print-festooned apparel is complemented by a raft of gorgeous accessories and homeware produced by local designer friends, including cute stationery, colourful socks (58RMB), knitted ties (150RMB) and miniature cacti housed in adorable containers (from 70RMB). The outstanding bags come courtesy of Audrey Zhao’s ‘reworked vintage’ ReDesign label, and Cheng, whose preppy canvas satchels (1,100RMB), adorned with quirky brass details such as gargoyle-head door knockers, are fun as well as functional.
Other noteworthy outposts are Göte Göta (B17), making a welcome return since closing their Xiangyang Lu digs last year; we’ve missed their hip roster of Swedish designers including Ann-Sofie Back, Swedish Hasbeens and Plain Vanilla.
Meanwhile, there are bargains to be had at Neither Nor’s outlet (B19). Here, you’ll find heavily discounted (up to 60 per cent) pieces from the past four collections, unlike at their Xintiandi Style flagship, which only carries the current spring/summer 2013 collection.
By Selena Schleh