By Hart Hagerty
January 20, 2017
Mark Ralston/Reuters/Corbis

South Bund Fabric Market is Shanghai’s most popular market where tourists and locals alike can get just about any garment custom-made for a decent price. While this busy, bustling market—with hundreds of tailors and thousands of fabrics—does spoil visitors for choice, but the infinite wardrobe possibilities can soon go from seeming inspiring to downright overwhelming. Instead of circling the frenetic floors, hightail it to these trusted vendors, but be prepared to bargain. There are still great deals to be had, but prices have risen steadily over the last few years. Besides bargaining hard, another tip is to make a laundry list and stick to it. It’s easy to get carried away or forget what you originally came to buy. Download several detailed images of your dream garments to your smartphone. Better yet, bring along your favorite wardrobe pieces to get copied in new colors and fabrics. Don’t forget to buffer in time for a fitting. Tailors don’t always get the perfect fit on the first go, so allow an extra day for alterations.

Mike (shop 244)

Gentlemen looking for cotton dress shirts should head to Mike, who is super friendly and has honest prices. Mike cuts his perfectly tailored shirts ($15-$20) from a tasteful variety of classic cotton fabrics in every color. He can also add thoughtful details like monograms. Ladies, Mike is a master when it comes to office-appropriate women’s wear, like lightweight wool pencil skirts and sleek sheath dresses.

Jack (shop 132)

Men with strong attention to detail and high style put their faith in Jack to create modern, elegant suits for their upscale wardrobes.  Jack—who speaks very good English—has hundreds of premium wool, silk, cashmere, and cotton suiting fabrics. He also has a keen eye for cut, from slim-fit to relaxed. Prices start at $95 depending on fabric and style.

Peter (shop 165)

Peter makes gorgeous wardrobe investments from leather. The young shop owner works with expert leather tailors to whip up all sorts of jackets, which are his specialty. In his shop you can see motorcycle jackets with rock’n’roll hardware, bomber jackets with shearling lining and chic suede jackets ($225) Peter also makes dresses and skirts ($90) from a rainbow of top-grain, lambskin, suede, and patent leathers.

David (shop 138)

A cashmere coat is an investment that will be cherished for many winters to come. For many, that investment can exceed well over $1,000 dollars. But in China, savvy shoppers can get a designer cashmere coat copied for a fraction of the price. Working in low volumes, David makes beautiful winter wear for men and women, like classic camel coats and peacoats. Prices start around $130, depending on the style and weight of the cashmere. 

Miss Xu (shop 300)

Miss Xu is the empress of silk at the fabric market. Her shop isn’t a regular stall; it is a shoulder-high stack of hundreds of rolls of silk and only silk.  Reliable and friendly, Miss Xu can make blouses ($30), shirt dresses ($60) and just about anything else you want cut from her seemingly infinite stock of silk in different weights, colors, and contemporary, fashionable prints.

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