By Hart Hagerty
October 23, 2014
Best Clothing Boutiques in Shanghai
Credit: Courtesy of Alter Shanghai

As China’s fashion capital, Shanghai is home to a population of insatiable shopping addicts—the sort who skip meals to save up for luxury logos. To get a piece of that pie, nearly every major international brand is has set up shop in Shanghai. Major roads like Huaihai Road and West Nanjing Road are lined with shiny new malls—home to mind-boggling flagships of brands like Prada and Chanel. Smaller luxury brands, meanwhile—like Isabel Marant and Victoria Beckham—fill the racks in department stores like Lane Crawford. With the exception of edgy international boutiques like 10 Corso Como, the sheer scale and omnipresence of big brands can make the shopping experience here a little boring. The most exciting retail is happening on the local level at independent boutiques like Dong Liang, which is devoted to the best Chinese designers, or Mian Hua Tian, an avant-garde, totally unique retail experience.

Dong Liang

Dong Liang opened this lovely lane-house boutique a few years ago after finding success with its Beijing flagship. The beautiful store has a thoughtful, edited selection of China’s top designers, artfully displayed throughout three floors of reclaimed wood floors and exposed ceiling beams. The first floor carries chic, whimsical womenswear by brands like Chictopia and Ms. Min. Upstairs you can pick through what’s left of the always-sold out, experimental cult label Boundless by Zhang Da. The top floor is reserved for the futuristic, minimalist threads of Ricostru.

Philip Le Bac

Come winter, savvy Shanghai shoppers know they won’t have to spend too much to add beautiful cashmere pieces to their wardrobe. Philip Le Bac is the retail side of a French family business, which has produced cashmere clothes for top European luxury brands for more than a decade in China. At their understated boutiques, the company offers the same cashmere classics they produce for luxury labels, but sold at mega-discounts.

Brocade Country

This boutique is a colorful treasure trove of the textiles and clothes made by China’s Miao ethnic minorities from Guizhou and Yunnan provinces. The shop is run by two amiable sisters who are devoted to educating visitors about the traditional artisans who create the pieces—which range from dramatic headpieces, silver jewelry, and intricately woven tapestries to exquisitely embroidered jackets.

Mian Hua Tian

This stunning new boutique—occupying an entire lane house with a spacious front garden in the French Concession on Changle Road—is home to a niche selection of avant-garde European designers. In the warmly lit, intimate gallery-like space, exclusive and sculptural pieces hang from walls upholstered in earthy-hued linen. Brands sold here include Rundholz (from Germany); Album di Famiglia, Lucio Vanotti, Alessandra Marchi and Masnada (from Italy); and Peachoo + Krejberg (from France). The highly curated atmosphere is offset by friendly and knowledgeable staff members, who encourage visitors to relax and slowly discover the designs over tea, coffee or wine.