Five Shanghai Gifts Not to Miss
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Five Shanghai Gifts Not to Miss

Shanghai Souvenir
Courtesy Pinyin Press

These city souvenirs are the perfect way to mark a trip.

Shanghai sits at the juxtaposition of traditional and modern China, a meeting point of historical curiosities and innovative design. These five presents range from traditional trinkets and time-honored brands, to contemporary takes on longstanding customs—and they make the perfect gift if you're wondering what to buy in Shanghai.

Pinyin Press Wearables

Inspired by everyday Shanghai-scenes, Pinyin (the Romanized writing system for Mandarin) Press produces a collection of items with iconic, hand-drawn illustrations, graphics, and prints. From crockery bedecked in boazi (steamed buns) to t-shirts with the famous lucky cat emblem, this company bridges the gap between traditional Chinese motifs and contemporary life in the city. This year, they teamed up with Wobabybasics to create children's apparel adorned with a festive noodle bowl pattern (noodles are commonly eaten to celebrate birthdays or to signify longevity). Made from organic cotton, they're available in a bright palette of colors, in sizes from newborn to eight years old. Find the full Pinyin Press collection at Madame Mao's Dowry

Cob Originals

This cheeky casualwear design company playfully fuses Eastern and Western concepts to create comfortable t-shirts and sweaters, as well as accessories. The bold, and at times brazen, designs include mischievous wordplay using English catchphrases and Chinese characters. Favorites are "Don't give a 事"(shì –meaning nonsensical attitude), "You're too mafan" (troublesome), and "Frankie says 放松" (most people can probably guess that one...). A playful introduction to Mandarin, these designs will be sure to get people talking. You can browse the COB ORIGINALS collection at their studio (Room 202, Building 3, 764 Changle Road, near Fumin Road), but we advise calling ahead

Piling Palang

This company combines traditional Chinese ceramic, cloisonné, lacquer and paper artwork with a vivid color scheme and contemporary influences from around the world. Each piece is created by skilled craftsmen, following ancient design techniques, yet would not look out of place in a modern home anywhere. The cloisonné vase was inspired by a Chinese lantern and is made with intricately cut metal and enamel, before being fired in a kiln. Piling Palang products can be picked up at one of the brand's stores in Shanghai.

White Rabbit Candies

This Shanghai "time-honored brand," meaning it has a history of at least 50 years, and supposedly possesses strong Chinese characteristics and distinct regional features. It has a special place in the hearts of many of the city's adult residents, being the confectioner of choice for most Chinese youngsters growing up in previous decades. The creamy, milky candies are easy to pack, and White Rabbit candies can be picked up in most convenience stores around the city.

Emperor Fan

This moon-shaped fan was originally used by nobles, though ultimately came to be known as the reunion fan, and was exchanged between friends and family members over time. The fans at Zen Lifestore come from neighboring Suzhou, and are made using silk and bamboo, with each creation having a unique double-sided, hand-embroidered design. The perfect gift for sinophiles, you can choose from a selection of emperor fan designs at Zen Lifestore.

Nyima Pratten lives in Shanghai and covers the city for Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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