Travel Inspiration By A Pro Trip Designer

FAMED FABRIC MARKET (The Reality)

Asia, Shopping

Sep
15
2009

SHANGHAI

As customary, I returned the following day to the Fabric Market to retrieve my custom-designed, tailor-made selections: a brown cashmere coat with added detail on the cuff and pockets, a purple cashmere dress with added pockets, a green and gold wool dress, and a silk print shirt. While yesterday felt like a giddy foray into the world of Project Runway (adding pockets, mixing various design elements to create my own vision), was quickly replaced with that pit-in-the-stomach feeling. My fantasy of 100% cashmere coats and winter dresses and my very own design silk print shirt (all for under $300 total) was crashing to a harsh reality illuminated by those godawful flourescent lights,. Like all personal disasters, the damage accumulated slowly.

The woman whose great designs orchestrated my cashmere crush and eventual catastrophe

The woman whose great designs orchestrated my cashmere crush and eventual catastrophe

First, I went to the green dress. It needed to be taken in, a lot. She said she’d have it done in an hour. Fine, I kept moving.  I next headed upstairs to the silk shirt man. The design was as I had instructed, but there was a zipper where none had been desired. And what felt like silk yesterday was now an obvious polyester. Ho hum.  So, with my 70’s costume top in hand, I headed down to collect my couture piece de resistance – my chocolate brown cashmere coat (pictured above) and cashmere purple Jackie-O style dress. With positive thoughts surging in my head, I headed to the corner booth where “my friend” (her self-anointed nickname), would surely prevail.

Alas, my dreamboat coat that, was meant to wow the crowds of Amsterdam, was instead a rough wool fabric, itchy at the neck and a tad tight across the bust (shocking that’s even possible). I will say it was cut well in the back and the pockets and cuffs turned out quite nicely but the fantasy of 100% cashmere was quickly dashed. As my face fell she tried to compensate with the purple dress. In keeping with the other dress, it was way too big. Again, I was re-pinned and told to return in an hour.  So here I was left with two dresses that didn’t fit, a coat that wasn’t the right material and a field of fabric dreams falling all around me.

One of the many Siren booths

One of the many Siren booths

So, with an hour to kill and wounded pride I did what any self-respecting, natural-born shopper would do – I searched for better bargains. I deduced that the model designs were indeed the ones to buy because THEY were made with the better fabrics and used as tools of enticement. So, I figured I’ll forfeit my original purchases and find a deal of a coat that WAS real cashmere to caress my battered spirit.  Again, the “Supermarket Sweep” drive to win resurfaced and off I went, running, trying on coats and working out the savings.  Like a moth to the light, I was pulled yet again to the idea of getting something for less and thinking I had solved the puzzle of the fabric market: Go with the samples! Luckily, I had two colleagues with me who were able to show me that the coat (which was perhaps 80% cashmere) I was mulling over was in fact not stylish, and not flattering and to cut my losses and collect my failures like a big girl. So, I trudged back to “my friend” and told her defiantly that I would pay less because the dress and the coat were not in fact cashmere as she had promised. We did feel tests together, she whined in protest and I was left standing in her booth as the lights above us were being  systematically shut off.  Talk about a cinematic moment. The darkness of my reality was literally closing in on me.

In the end I was able to get 100RB down from what I owed (a savings of about 13 dollars) So, if you see me strutting around in my felt brown coat over my itchy wool purple dress this winter, please, refrain from the “I told you so” or tossing out the  “Too good to be true” adage and instead, just be nice and compliment the custom cut and stylings. But whatever you do, don’t touch.

Oh and if you do go to the Fabric Market, which, really you must, please heed this warning and go with adjusted expectations. And, if you’re able to really be prudent – buy the display model, always.

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Posted in: Asia, Shopping

Published by Meg, Tuesday, September 15, 2009 No Comments

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About Meg

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Meg is the founder of luxury travel consulting company, Friend of a Friend Consulting. Her three books, Italian Hideaways, Caribbean Hideaways and England's Hideaways are published by Rizzoli. Passionate about travel, hotels and wine, she continues to write freelance travel pieces and is currently pursuing a Masters in Wine through the WSET.

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The opinions expressed on this blog are solely my own and do not reflect separate business relationships with the subject. Whenever posts are supported financially, they are designated as such.