Shanghai tailors are the best in the world, says fashion designer Christy Holzer, whose label, Dowry Designs, was inspired by the city. She suggests visiting the South Bund fabric market to order custom garments.
DRESS: STALL 308 “A fun style to wear is the qipao [a centuries-old Chinese dress that got its form-fitting shape in the 1920s]. Traditional silk patterns make the garment look old, so request a solid-color silk.”
SUIT: STALL 309 “If you want truly exceptional fabric, ask for 100 percent wool. Most of the wool fabrics they have are blends. Specify that they line your suit with 100 percent silk or cotton.”
COTTON SHIRT: STALL 310 “Look at the buttons the tailors are planning to use, as they often choose cheap ones. If you don’t like the buttons, stop by a button stall at the market; it will be worth the extra investment.”
Illustration by Michael Hoeweler. This appeared in the March/April 2013 issue.
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Stall #310 in Shanghai's South Bund Fabric Market
The famous Shanghai Fabric Market is home to hundereds of tailors and seamstresses. I recomend Stall #310 on the third floor. The boss, Eric, was the first to start his business in the market, and he has more than 10 years experience as a tailor. He is famous for his good quality and perfect service. Whether you're in the market for a suit, a shirt, a coat, or something else, he can do it for you! His shirts are always fashionable. I had him make me a lot of suits and shirts. Everything is perfect, comfortable, and fitted.
If you are in Shanghai for at least 5 days I HIGHLY recommend you plan this FIRST. You will not be sorry. First thing I did when I arrived on Sunday was head to this market. I specifically made sure to tell the dressmaker that I was leaving Friday. Normally you can ask for a fitting in between but since I was on a work trip I only had time to pick up the final piece Friday. I did some research before & printed out photos a tunic and a dress I wanted made. Stall: 238 on the second floor Cost: 500 RMB for both (Don’t forget to bargain). Not a bad price considering I got two well made pieces that fit me perfectly. This is not common for me since I am tall. If I had been more prepared I would have brought my favorite dress that I grew out of and asked for a new one in a different fabric. I also would have bought some expensive jeans, kept the tag on, had them make a copy and then return the originals when I got back home. Just a tip in case you can manage this.
Tip: -There are food stalls outside of the market and I HIGHLY recommend that you get the scallion pancake. You can get it with or without meat and spicy or non spicy. It's a very inexpensive snack.