Home to hundreds of seamstresses and tailors since 2005, the Shanghai Fabric Market, also known as the Shanghai South Bund Fabric Market, in the Huangpu district is the destination for anything you need to be stitched or sewn, be it custom shirts, suits, dresses, coats, or accessories like gloves and scarves. Catering to a mostly foreign crowd, you should bring cash because credit cards are not accepted. The market, located at 399 Lujiabang Lu, near Zhongshan Nan Lu, is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
Linens and Silks and Cottons, Oh My!
The overwhelming, three-floor Shanghai South Bund Market is home to thousands of different choices of clothing fabrics and 300 or more custom tailors who deliver made-to-measure men and women's clothing in 48 hours. Stalls sell everything from linen, chiffon, silk, cotton, denim in different shades and colors, blends, cashmere for coats and suiting, men's suiting materials, and more.
Most of the 300+ vendors at the Shanghai South Bund Market tend to specialize: some sew just shirts; others sew just dresses and still others just gowns. Some specialize only in buttons and others sell only fabric. Each vendor has a showroom. Many vendors speak a little basic English. Getting clothing made is easy, but the outcome can vary. Your best bet is to buy something that has already been made (most stalls have samples hanging up that you can try on) or bring in an item you'd like to have copied.
After you decide on your fabric and you are measured properly, you'll leave a 50% deposit and then return in a few days, try on your clothing, and pay the rest if you are satisfied. Keep in mind the clothing is actually made somewhere else and these are basically just showrooms. If you're leaving town in a hurry, allow an extra day or two for alterations, as tailors don't always get it right the first time. Vendors can also ship your order to you if you don't have the time to wait.
Tailors make everything here, but some of the bomber jackets with fleece lining, chic suede jackets, motorcycle jackets with hardware—all made of top-grain leather, lambskin, suede, and patent leather—stand out. Other standouts include lightweight cotton shirts in every imaginable color, classic camel coats, and blouses made of silk.
Don't settle for the first shop you see; walk further in for a better idea of what's available. Be prepared to bargain and haggle your way to a fair price. Sometimes you can agree on prices as much as five times lower than European prices for well-made garments—just keep in mind the product may not be of European standards. This market isn't as cheap as it used to be, but you can still finagle your way to a good bargain.