Asia, Shopping, Travel Tips
HOLY MOLY! The FABRIC MARKET in Shanghai, located now at 399 Lu Jia Bang road, is one of the most alluringly dangerous places I have ever set foot in abroad. It’s Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory for fashion-lovers and I unabashedly embodied every single one of those bratty children characters throughout my three-hour stint. Oh yes, one needs multiple hours in this fun factory, unless of course, you are well-guided by a trustworthy source. Otherwise, do NOT fall prey to the first booth you see, or the supposed cashmere you are prompted to feel — the true gems are well-hidden.
Of course, being a novice, I was instantly mesmerized by the row of booths showcasing custom and classic designs of jackets, suits, dresses, drawn to the promise of cheap, tailor made clothing. I mean, it’s where J.Crew and Michael Kors get their clothes made after all. Surely I can then custom order jackets and dresses in expensive fabrics like Cashmere for well under $300 a piece. Or so I thought. Again, this is where the guide should take your hand firmly and insist you follow him or her to the well-vetted booths only. As a more savvy Asian shopper very well knows, there’s way more to it than first meets the eye.
As I hemmed and hawed my way through the booths, I slowly learned to haggle with the myriads of “I make a good price for you, Lady” vendors and felt like a kingpin as I plucked the rolls of fabric from the wall and drew my designs on the seamstress’ design-pad. I nodded yes to their statements of 100% Cashmere though the sample felt a tad different, caught up in the belief that my jacket when it came to my hotel the following day would be indeed, the 100% quality they assured. So, I went around to my various chosen booths, I doled out the 100-RB notes for the deposit on the various items (two dresses, a long jacket, a cape and a silk shirt) and left the market feeling like I’d just gotten a steal of a new winter wardrobe. To be continued…