Shanghai’s best bargains

Three ways to take home luxury products on a budget

Fake goodies

The four-storey Taobao Market is the pick of Shanghai’s fake markets, with everything from fake Ray-Bans to Chloe bags, Loboutin heels, Fred Perry sports bags, cheap (real) Benefit makeup and even the odd genuine vintage piece on the fourth floor.

You’re best off starting at the top, where the best stuff is and where the vendors aren’t as aggressive (getting grabbed isn’t unheard of on the first floor). Our pick of the stalls is number 84 on the third floor, which sells ‘Mulberry’ bags made with top quality leather. A classic Bayswater will set you back around 600RMB (they don’t bargain much, a sign that this is good stuff) – it’s impossible to tell the difference between them and the real thing.

Where is it? On Nanjing Xi Lu in Jingan district, a 10-minute taxi ride from People’s Square. Address details


Cheap pearls

Hongqiao International Pearl City may sound like a horrible place, but it’s actually a pleasant place to buy real and fake pearls, with cheery vendors who don’t give you much hassle. Downtown vendors come here, a sign that these are the real deal. You can pick up classic genuine pearl earrings for just 20RMB (Daxi Pearl at the top of the escalators has a good range), or head to Vicky Pearl at G050 for a 120RMB version of the classic Tiffany drop-pearl necklace with real pearls and a delicate sterling silver necklace. SAA Design at Room 2022 make fake Chanel string-of-pearl necklaces for around 220RMB. In short, if it’s pearl, you can probably get it here, and it will be cheap.

Where is it? In Hongqiao, in west Shanghai, about 40 minutes by taxi from People’s Square. See Address details


Tailor-made on the cheap

Locals and tourists alike still flock to the South Bund Fabric Market, three floors of just about every fabric you can think of, and tailors who can make just about anything you can think of. It usually takes a week to get things made, though you can sometimes get things done in three days if you pay extra. A key tip is to bring a photo or an item you want copied. The stock here comes from leftover fabric from factories in Asia and Europe which provide for everyone from Zara to high-end designers. Most of the cost is the fabric (labour is cheap), so expect to pay more for quality, though you’ll save a bit on the third floor which is generally less pricey.


For the gents, 1F-165 has a quality range of tan, black and dyed leather jackets. It’s best to bring your own design, though they have a good range of styles in store – we think a tan leather biker jacket (around 900RMB) is particularly sexy. Corduroy may not be the hippest of fabrics, but you can get a dandy brown blazer knocked up at 3F-314 for 175RMB.

For dashing tuxedos, 1F-137 is a one-stop shop (and have a 24-hour express service) – get a suit, shirt, tie and cummerbund for 800-900RMB. For the best tailor-made classic suits, Xia Rong Jun (3F-326) speaks some English and makes consistently
good men’s suits, and is one of very few tailors willing to work with your ideas if you want a more experimental cut. Just down the hall at 3F-310 you can get a brilliant and affordable fitted shirt to go with it (85RMB). The best prices in the market are at 2F-285, which has a good selection of fabrics – largely cotton – and will whip up shorts for just 100RMB. This is a good place to get styles copied, though they do better with loose styles such as baggy summer shorts or linen trousers.


For the ladies, 2F-215 stocks luscious cashmere, and will make classic coats for 850-1,200RMB. They don’t really negotiate on price but this is a good sign – if you can barter a coat to below 700RMB it’s not pure. For a lighter Spring jacket, 1F-195 specialises in Coco Chanel-style tweed jackets (250RMB) with a wide range of colours and bouclé fabrics.

1F-136 is the spot for beautiful silks in solid colours for around 45RMB/metre (you’ll need about two metres for a shirt), and they’re also one of the only places selling tussah (a raw silk that’s heavier and more matte) for 75RMB/metre. Bring your own style as they don’t have many on display. For Thai silk (slightly heavier, iridescent silk, 50RMB/metre), 3F-300 has the prettiest selection. If you’re after a qipao, 1F-186 has reasonable prices and consistent quality with plenty of designs
to choose from (300-400RMB depending on length). For textured white cottons such as waffle, dotted swiss and eyelet patterns, 3F-382 has a selection at 40-50RMB/metre which is perfect for making gorgeous summer dresses.

If you go to one shop, 2F-206 has a fetching selection of pretty florals, polka dots and retro prints. Dig through the huge selection of patterned cottons (25-30RMB/metre), which are perfect for breezy summer dresses (around 200RMB if you get them lined) and a wilder kind of men’s shirt (around 150RMB). Think simple, clean designs, which have a better success rate than complicated cuts.

Where is it? In the south of the Old City, close to the river. It’s about 20 minutes from People’s Square by taxi. Address details


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