124 Taiyuan Lu, near Yongjia Lu
Strangely titled concept store OOAK (‘One Of A Kind’) has been quietly making waves in Shanghai’s indie jewellery scene since it opened in 2013. Squashed into a renovated three-storey lanehouse, the look and feel is pure retro hang-out chic: think reclaimed wooden shelves, whitewashed brick walls adorned with McQueen skull prints, and faded Persian carpets laid artfully over scrubbed pine floors.
OOAK’s beautifully curated collection focuses on showcasing the most exciting new brands from both China and elsewhere, including Brit label Alex Monroe and the edgy work of New York-based Joomi Lim. The second floor is home to a select range of womenswear and accessories, while you can head to the top floor, known as The Gallery, to find a café and exhibition space. The space also hosts pop-up stores, the occasional party or launch, and recently started jewellery workshops. See full address details
233 Huaihai Zhong Lu, near Huangpi Nan Lu
There’s something ethereal about China’s first homegrown luxury brand Shang Xia. The gorgeous Huaihai Lu ‘maison’ uses thousands of years of history and tradition to influence contemporary, chic products. A cloud-like interior was designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma to float you through the store to gaze at traditional tea sets with tea cups (each taking three days to make) set on a traditionally weaved bamboo tray (taking up to three months to make).
There are four lines to Shang Xia – jewellery, fashion, furniture and household items – and the sense of quality is reflected in the heady prices: 29,800RMB for the complete tea set and 7,800RMB for ‘dragon pearl’ necklaces, for example. But it’s a stunning space with an elegantly lust-worthy collection of goods. See full address details
Bldg 10, Eco Village, 485 Fenglin Lu, near Lingling Lu
Scooping our Best New Shop award in 2014, The Squirrelz mixes established creative talents such as Jonas’ Design (old biscuit tins turned into lamps, from 570RMB) with lesser-known upcycling whizzes including Somos Design (fish-food sacks repurposed into clutches and wallets, from 120RMB).
Meanwhile The Squirrelz’s own line of products includes items such as ‘Scrubags’, foldable totes made from surplus medical scrubs stock (148RMB). Championing green businesses, the store is worth stopping by for both a feel-good purchase and a natter with the exuberant owners, who also run Wasavy’s Printshop out back. See full address details
1 Taojiang Lu, near Dongping Lu
This contemporary homewares shop opened its second branch at the apex of Taojiang, Dongping and Yueyang Lus last month, bringing modern decor items and knick-knacks from a range of designers together with regular flower arranging classes and baking lessons. The store is bright, colourful and has an array of original designs on offer.
Some of our favourites among the colourful wares on offer are animal-head Champagne glasses (399RMB) with different creatures from the Chinese zodiac by Thai-designers Thaiseberg, and ingenious stonewear candles (from 119RMB) by Taiwanese designer Finding Cheska that can be used as body oil after they are burned. See full address details
Home & Interior 126 Caoxi Bei Lu, near Sanhui Lu
Okay, so for many a trip to Ikea is a prospect filled with dread, but we defend the decision to put the Swedish home retailer so high on our list with the reckoning that most readers will have made at least one trip around the brand’s Shanghai stores. The big blue boxes are as much destinations as they are shops, with enthusiastic customers ‘testing out’ the sofas, beds and tables for hours on end, before battling their way through the packed cafe for some meatballs.
There is a point where you feel you’re not going to make it out alive, but everyone ultimately emerges unscathed with more tea lights and bulbs than intended. And you can always reward yourself with a dirt cheap hotdog at the end. See full address details
2 Yongfu Lu, near Wuyuan Lu
Vintage is an ever-evolving beast in Shanghai, but we still think you can’t beat a browse around Lolo Love Vintage, the queen of Shanghai’s retro scene. This quaint little space opposite The Shelter has crystal chandeliers, antique dolls and racks of gorgeous vintage threads (from around 400RMB). Comprising a treasure trove of mostly womenswear from Europe and the US, there are gorgeous items from decades gone by to peruse, plus shoes, jewellery, hats, ties and crockery.
The sprawling space on Yongfu Lu is dripping with nostalgic glamour and kitsch trinkets, such as typewriters and toy dolls, while standout pieces adorn mannequins or decorate the walls. The plentiful rails of retro stock here are the fruits of stylist Lolo’s sourcing from Los Angeles, with a new focus on the ’20s-’40s period. Many have tried to unseat Lolo from her faded leather vintage throne – but so far none have succeeded. See full address details
1717 Nanjing Xi Lu, near Huashan Lu
10 Corso Como is four floors of pure delight. The department-style store, which rounds into a curved point at the corner of Nanjing Xi Lu, is a distinctive-looking haze of trippy, monochrome swirls, spirals and curves.
Originally launched in an old garage in Milan (providing inspiration for the name), Corso Como eventually evolved into a bookshop, fashion store, café and restaurant – a winning model which has been smoothly replicated in China. The ground floor holds an eclectic mix of books, home design and accessories plus the store’s own-brand range, with the second and third floors dedicated to gorgeous, curated selections of menswear and womenswear respectively.
This is a wonderful store to explore even if you can’t afford some of their high prices, and luckily browsing is part of the intended experience, with a gallery and regular shows taking over the fourth floor. See full address details
1 Taojiang Lu, near Dongping Lu
Project Aegis has long been a menswear favourite in Shanghai, and over the last year the brand has given us plenty more reasons to love them, including their pop-up store in K11, a strong online offering and their new café-cum-shop concept beside the Pushkin monument on Taojiang Lu. This funky new two-storey store opened last year and offers high-end men’s clothes and accessories, and also includes retro machine games and a coffee shop on the ground floor.
The store remains a favourite for trendsetters and our top place for men’s fashion, predominantly offering imports from the US (including Rag & Bone, Generic Surplus and Opening Ceremony) and Europe (like Armando Cabral and London Undercover). Men’s fashion is still woefully underserved in Shanghai, but Project Aegis is showing the way – hopefully others will follow suit. See full address details
184 Fumin Lu, near Changle Lu.
This cutting edge design studio, weaved around three floors of a lane house on Fumin Lu, is not the cheapest boutique in Shanghai. But we feel this stunning indie store rightly deserves it’s place at the top of our list.
Firstly, it is a wonderfully ambient shopping experience – starting on the ground floor, where most products hover around 1,200RMB, you can meander from room to beautifully kept room through winding stairwells and display cubby holes, with every inch laid out with a stylish nod.
Secondly, we love the products, from a gorgeous range of three-quarter length Uma Wang coats (topping out at 19,320RMB), delicate jumpers from Crush Cashmere (2,780RMB), retro sunglasses from Chair Eyes (starting around 1,000RMB), plus stylish bags from Matter Matters and much, much more.
And thirdly, it gets huge points for its enormous support of homegrown fashion designers – not only do they support the brands they stock with marketing and creative feedback, but they have also taken groups of Chinese designers to international fashion weeks such as London. ‘There are other stores who also have Chinese designers, but at Dong Liang, we focus on the ones with the most market potential and the most talented designs, and we are always interested in high-quality, original products,’ says co-owner Tasha Liu.
‘We are like a window for the fashion industry from abroad to look at Chinese designers and Chinese creativity.’ While Liu says that they are keen to keep Dong Liang small scale ‘to give our designers enough presence in our store’, the brand is about to expand to a second Shanghai location ‘just around the corner’, and an online shop is also in the works.
A carefully curated collection, presented in distinctly Shanghai surrounds, Dong Liang Studio is a must-visit for anyone with even a passing interest in Chinese fashion. See full address details