32 local and independent Shanghai brands you need to know

Looking for something with that certain je ne sais quoi that only our city has? Support these brands that are as diverse as Shanghai itself

Photograph: courtesy French Dragon
A city that draws in creatives, entrepreneurs and innovators from all over the world for its community spirit and as a testbed of ideas, Shanghai’s homegrown brands are booming. Whether you’re looking for one-of-a-kind kitchenware, all-natural and eco-friendly skincare, or pieces from up-and-coming, achingly cool designers to add to your wardrobe, love local and back these indie brands.


Homeware


Brut Cake

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Photograph: courtesy Brut Cake

Drawing on the 1950s ‘Art Brut’ movement, Taiwanese designer Nicole Teng and her small team craft brilliantly offbeat,rough-around-the-edges furnishings using reclaimed and vintage materials, quirky ceramics hand-painted with whimsical faces and more. Recently shutting up her workshop on Anfu Lu, Teng has moved the operation online-only.

Search 'BrutCake' on Taobao or follow 'BrutCake' on WeChat.


Baluchon

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Photograph: courtesy Baluchon

Living by the motto 'zero waste can be stylish', full-time French environmental engineer Nanou makes eco-friendly products as a side project – think beeswax food wraps, washable makeup remover pads, mesh string grocery bags and furoshiki gift wrapping cloth – to reduce waste created from single-use plastic, paper and cotton.

Follow ‘Baluchon’ on WeChat.


CIAOGAO

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Photograph: courtesy CIAOGAO

Creating a line of home furnishings and apparel – from bedding, tablecloths and wall art to bags, shoes and phone cases – printed with his hand-crafted designs, Jiangsu born designer Carlos Cao draws ideas from the natural world and urban living. He’s got a particular thing for plants, finding inspiration for his debut line back in 2017 from a cactus on his terrace.

Search ‘CIAOGAO’ on Taobao.


Pinyin Press

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Photograph: courtesy Pinyin Press

A fail-safe found on many Shanghai gift and souvenir lists, Pinyin Press' founder and designer Sarah Armstrong turns small snapshots of local life – bicycles, baozi, lucky cats, bowls of noodles – into artful, hand-designed prints and illustrations stamped onto totes, tea towels, cups, notebooks, jumpers and more.

Visit pinyinpress.com or follow 'PinyinPress' on WeChat.


French Dragon

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Photograph: courtesy French Dragon

A contemporary take on China’s iconic blue and white ceramics, Laure-Anne Germond travels to 'porcelain capital' Jingdezhen once a month to create her Shanghai-inspired and -dedicated designs. A mashup of East and West, her mugs and plates are decorated with slogans in pinyin, English and French – as well as sketches of classically Chinese objects like lanterns and bamboo steamers. Germond also makes cushions and coasters using vintage Shanghai textiles from the’60s and ’70s.

Follow 'frenchdragon' on WeChat.


SiDo

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Photograph: courtesy SiDo

Hand-thrown ceramics, all-natural fragrance rollers, hand-poured soy candles… Oway Lau crafts one-of-a-kind wares intended for daily use. From her indie brand boutique on WeChat she also sells a charming mishmash collection of locally produced goods including homeware, clothing, accessories and toiletries with the aim of supporting other local designers and entrepreneurs.

Follow 'Si6Do1' on WeChat.


Pass It On

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Photograph: courtesy Pass It On

Hoping to 'inspire people to take a stand and pass on the message of climate change', each Pass It On candle pays tribute to tourist destinations that are strongly feeling its impact, founder Michelle Chow explains. From the Amazon (scented with goji and taroco blood orange) to the Great Barrier Reef (wood sage and sea salt), the candles are made using local soy wax and come with dehydrated compost and a small packet of wild-flower seeds in their FSC-certified paper lids that are for planting in the holder when it’s finished burning.

Follow 'PassItOn' on WeChat.


Food & Drink


Mingri Brewing

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Photograph: courtesy Mingri Brewing

What started out as an experimental operation between three home brewers – Fan Jin, Wu Yucheng and Zhang Qing – curiosity is at the core of this microbrewery that now operates a ten-barrel brewing system from ancient town Xitang, a WeChat store and a taproom on Xinzha Lu. They keep things fresh with monthly flavoured craft beer launches – from a Lime Cucumber Gose to the Durian Porter – alongside a lineup of regulars, featuring the flagship New England-style IPA, Hazy Dream.

Follow '明日酿造' on WeChat (search 'ming ri niang zao').


Shanghai Love Brewing

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Photograph: courtesy Shanghai Love Brewing

'Made with love' is the mantra of this community-focused craft beer and – more recently – draft cocktail brand (made using their own liqueurs) that's been a key player in Shanghai’s craft booze scene since it was founded by American-import Kia Parsai in 2016. The range of brews, from the ubiquitous signature IPA to summer specials like the Pineapple Pale Ale, can be found at venues all over the city, including W Shanghai - The Bund and Cages (where they also have exclusive collaboration brews), RAC, The Cannery, Polux and more.

Follow 'ShanghaiLoveBrew' on WeChat.


Zestea

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Photograph: courtesy Zestea

One of the few fermented drinks that’s meant to leave you feeling good, Sharon Lee and Cindy Chen have been handcrafting their organic kombucha Zestea for two years. Keeping batches small and ingredients natural, alongside the original, their range has grown to include lemongrass, mint and lemon, ginger and turmeric and hibiscus flavours of the gut-friendly sweet-sour soft drink.

Follow 'zesteakombucha' on WeChat.


Jonas Emil

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Photograph: courtesy Jonas Emil

Honing their craft for over a decade, the trio behind micro coffee roaster Jonas Emil (David Henry, Feng Zhenhai and Zhang Yu) put freshness first through small-batch roasting and a roast-to-order programme for their single-origin beans and blends – don’t sleep on the Shanghai Silhouette. To find out more about what goes into your bag of beans, swing by the recently opened store and café at the Ambassy Club.

Follow 'JonasEmilCoffee' on WeChat.


LAIBA
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Photograph: courtesy LAIBA

For bar-quality cocktails without leaving the couch, LAIBA delivers. A platform for pre-bottled cocktails using China-made spirits, LAIBA prepares and packages the drinks and sends them with cups, ice and a garnish – your job is to shake, pour and go. On the drinks list, curated by co-founder Michael Chen (bar director at The Nest and co), there are the classics (bloody Marys, cold brew martinis), signatures (like the low-calorie Passion De-Light with cucumber vodka and passion fruit) and collab-cocktails with local bars, including EPIC, Shake, UP, Union Trading Co and Logan’s Punch.

Follow 'LAIBA_Beverages' on WeChat.


Highlite

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Photograph: courtesy Highlite

An alternative for your caffeine fix: sparkling maté tea. Shanghai resident Daniel de Smeth spent over a year developing the recipe for his zesty calorie-free drink, made using Argentinian yerba maté leaf. You can order it at restaurants across the city (Little Catch, Tomatito, Homeslice, etc) or on the WeChat store.

Follow 'Highlite' on WeChat.


Peddlers Gin

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Photograph: Graeme Kennedy, courtesy Peddlers Gin

Distilled with Eastern botanicals from all over China – Sichuan pepper, Yunnan Buddha’s hand and cassia, Gansu lotus flower – Shanghai born-and-bred craft gin Peddlers is the smooth and floral, peppery undertoned creation of Joseph Judd, Ryan McLeod and Fergus Woodward. Over a few years, Peddlers has evolved from a 20-bottle-per-batch label to a craft spirit that you’ll find on bar menus and at shops across the city – and beyond.

Visit peddlersgin.com or add 'peddlersgin' on WeChat.


Realicious Butters

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Photograph: courtesy Realicious Butters

Out to make our existence a little bit healthier one spoonful at a time, French chef and nutritionist Clementine Rottemberg (ClemHealth) blends up raw, vegan and unprocessed nut and seed butters. All about keeping things natural, the tried-and-tested menu offers almond, cashew, pumpkin seed and coco cashew butters.

Add 'Realiciousbutters' on WeChat.


Pint Club

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Photograph: courtesy Pint Club

A homegrown gelateria, Pint Club’s founder Hang started churning thick and creamy gelato from her Shanghai kitchen in 2018. Trained in Italy, Hang’s flavours span from classics like Sicilian pistachio to more adventurous limited-edition scoops, recently featuring a dairy-free pineapple gelato topped with caramelised bacon.

Add 'PintClub' on WeChat.


Strictly Cookies

Photograph: courtesy Strictly Cookies

Sugar, spice and all things nice – that's what these cookies are made of. The sweet brainchild of Lexie Comstock, Strictly dominates the American-style cookie scene in Shanghai with its range of chewy and chunky rounds. There’s the classics (chocolate chip, oatmeal and raisin), specialities (red velvet, Funfetti), cookie ice-cream sandwiches and monthly specials – plus vegan, gluten- or sugar-free varieties for the health-conscious amongst us.

Visit the Pany Lu store or follow 'StrictlyCookies' on WeChat.


Fashion & Accessories


theECHO

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Photograph: courtesy theECHO

'Elegant, contemporary, historical, oriental – these four key-words represent the core of theECHO’s design,' explains the handmade jewellery brand’s creator Cynthia Ramos Zhong. A graduate of the China Academy of Art, she crafts contemporary collections defined by Chinese elements using materials like jade, agate and pearls.

Add 'Echostudioofficial' on WeChat.


NeVI

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Photograph: courtesy NeVI

Originally going down the medicine route, Ghanaian self-taught designer Vivian Osei has thrown her love of fashion (she started young, sourcing looks for her friends and siblings) into her own sustainable and bespoke clothing line NeVI. Inspired by a drive to 'interpret Africa in light of different cultures through the use of African fabrics and textiles', she blends traditional materials with global and emerging styles.

Add 'Immzvee1995' on WeChat.


DOE

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Photograph: courtesy DOE

Integrating itself into the fabric of Shanghai’s streetwear scene, Terry Zhu and Himm Wonn’s homegrown label DOE kits out Shanghai’s young and ultra-cool with its line of minimalist menswear. Check out the wares (along with international labels like Nike and Futur) at their equally sleek store cum-coffeeshops in Jingan and Xintiandi as well as at their pop-up 'Avenue Joffre' at GenZ mall TX Huaihai this autumn.

Follow 'DOE Lifestyle' on WeChat.


Charlotta Gandolfo

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Photograph: courtesy Charlotta Gandolfo

Insert a bit of luxury into your wardrobe via Charlotta Gandolfo's resort-inspired women's wear made with travel in mind. 'My signature style is all about playing with opposites,' says Gandolfo. '[The designs are] sexy yet elegant, glamourous yet casual, dressed up yet relaxed – just like the women who wear them.'

Follow 'charlottagandolfoshop' on WeChat or add ID 'CharlottaG' to make an appointment at the Xuhui showroom.


RJ Clothing

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Photograph: courtesy RJ Clothing

Gents, add a bit of sartorial style to your look with RJ Clothing’s made-to-measure menswear. Founded by Rónan Kent (who’s now joined by partners Joseph Olaoye and Camilla Gleditsch), RJ combines two of his biggest passions: fashion and tech. Every garment is made using ‘automated and cloud computing technology for measuring, ordering, cutting and delivery’ from the team’s workshop in downtown Shanghai.

Visit the Jiangning Lu workshop (open by WeChat appointment only) or follow 'RJClothing' on WeChat.


Zodiac Active

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Photograph: courtesy Zodiac Active

'Designed to live in your wardrobe for many seasons and to stand the test of time,' active women's lifestyle brand Zodiac is built on the belief that 'one brand works for all'. Pushing back against throwaway fashion, the denim centric label, by designer Stephanie Lawson, bridges different seasons and occasions (think yoga jeans and a denim raincoat).



Okra

Photograph: courtesy Okra

Bringing island vibes to Shanghai for more than six years via a collection of earrings, rings and necklaces crafted with 'regenerated stones, crystals and other foraged natural and organic materials', Mauritian designer Julie Pang's creations are a covetable addition to pretty much any jewellery box. Swing by the Julu Lu studio, open Saturdays from 2 to 6pm or weekdays by appointment only.

Visit okra.mu or follow 'OkraHandmade' on WeChat.


Fernanda Sung Jewelry

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Photograph: courtesy Fernanda Sung Jewelry

Jewellery inspired by the city’s rich history and Art Deco architecture, Fernanda Sung revives the spirit of old Shanghai. Her Golden Years collection (characterised by Art Deco-esque geometric lines) is a nod to the early 20th century and a tribute to some of the women who shaped the city: Zhang Ailing, Zhou Xuan, Ruan Lingyu and Hu Die.

Follow ‘Fernanda Sung’ on WeChat.


Craffiti

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Photograph: courtesy Craffiti

A one-woman operation helmed by Shanghainese creative Maomao, jewellery studio Craffiti handcrafts a mix of every day and occasion accessories. If you’ve got a design idea in mind or seen something you like, Maomao also takes custom orders.

Add ‘catherinedeway’ on WeChat.


klee klee

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Photograph: courtesy klee klee

Translating to 'slow down' in spoken Tibetan, eco-friendly fashion line klee klee lives by its name. An independent collection under the Shanghai-based multi brand platform ZUCZUG, designer Wang Yanyan’s minimalist, slow fashion womens, mens and kids wear uses organic and recycled materials and natural dyes to reduce environmental impact in the production process.

Visit the Anfu Lu boutique or follow 'kleeklee' on WeChat.


Wellness


Eu Noia

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Photograph: courtesy Eu Noia

Taking the name Eu Noia from the Ancient Greek for 'a well mind', Jann Wong uses aromatherapy to combat the stresses of city living. She sources organic ingredients, essential oils and botanical extracts from New Zealand for her line of eco-conscious hair, body and home products. Find out more at the small Wuyuan Lu boutique, open Saturdays and Sundays from 2 to 6pm or by appointment.

Call 1368163 9625 or add 'xiaotangtug' on WeChat.


Boomi

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Photograph: courtesy Boomi

Shop guilt-free with Miguel Boy and Emmanuel Dean’s eco-friendly wares. The duo's line of shampoo and conditioning bars, toothbrushes, reusable face wipes and travel kits (alongside kitchen products) are made using materials like bamboo and organic cotton, largely sourced from Zhejiang. They also donate 8.8 percent of the revenue from products purchased through their store – which stocks 30-plus local brands – to the Boomi Forest Initiative, a collaborative programme with charity Roots & Shoots to plant trees in Inner Mongolia.

Visit myboomi.io or follow ‘BoomiOfficial’ on WeChat.


RiverRoots

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Photograph: courtesy RiverRoots

South African Khay Sigula takes a holistic approach to wellness with her natural skincare RiverRoots that specialises in handmade body butters – packed with all the good stuff like coconut oil, sweet almond oil, cacao butter and dōTerra essential oils – as well as beard oils and balms, soy candles and sage. As Sigula puts it, 'Coming from a family of traditional healers… spirituality and ancestral rituals are a major part of my family's culture, which is why RiverRoots incorporates candles and sage, all for healing the body, mind and soul.'

Add ‘QueensQuest’ on WeChat.


NUDE by Korea

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Photograph: Rachel Zhang, courtesy NUDE

Natural, sustainable and vegan – that’s the idea behind Farah López Del Aguila and Carina Schaefer’s skincare line. Taking cues from the simplicity of K-beauty, their collection of exfoliating soaps, natural deodorants, shampoo and conditioning bars and facial oils are all created to nourish and protect sensitive skin (and the planet).

Follow 'NUDEcare' on WeChat.


Soapnut Republic

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Photograph: courtesy Soapnut Republic

Soapnut berry extract is one of the essential ingredients that goes into wife and husband team Kim Gilliland and Bobby Mitchell’s natural, non-toxic, allergen-free and biodegradable home, laundry and personal care products. Go by the Jingan office every Wednesday from midday to 2pm to get 15 percent off refills on any of the eight cleaning essentials (including 500ml and one-litre hand soaps, laundry liquid, dish soap, multi-purpose spray and more).

Follow 'soapnut-republic' on WeChat.
Markets & Pop-ups

Markets & Pop-ups

Tote at the ready: here are four of the best markets to pick up locally designed wares

Common Rare
Independent and designer platform Common Rare’s markets and pop-ups support local creatives, showcasing products like jewellery, home accessories and fragrances. Follow ‘CommonRare’ on WeChat. 

Commune Market
Putting the spotlight on local brands, this market celebrates originality, creativity, entrepreneurial spirit and community across the board. Follow ‘communemarket’ on WeChat.

Eco Design Fair
A grass-roots community market solely for eco-conscious companies and consumers, Eco Design Fair encourages a lifestyle of reusing and recycling. Follow ‘EcoDesignFairCN’ on WeChat.

Jiashan Market 
A long-running artisanal wares and farmers'-style Saturday market set in a courtyard off Jiashan Lu. Follow 'JiashanMarket' on WeChat. 

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