10 Corso Como Shanghai
Opened in September 2013, this high-design concept store comes to China from Milan. Alone the setting, in a five-story building with a glass façade, makes a visit worthwhile. As in Italy, the concept here is "one-stop shopping," and so the boutique leisurely expands across the floors, offering everything from fashion and accessories to tech toys, books and an incredible magazine collection. There's a café and restaurant, making this a fun destination for browsing and a break. Don't be surprised if you see lines outside the boutique. The combination of high-fashion, design and Euro concept shop has hit just the note in this ever-trendy city.
Blanc de Chine
Internationally known Blanc de Chine is a much more subtle and subdued take on high-end Chinese fashion than the colorful and glamorous Shanghai Tang. Blanc de Chine’s design philosophy is based on creating beautiful silk clothes that are timeless, “so ancient yet so modern.” Founded in 1986, the company was the first in Asia to draw on traditional Chinese styles like the Qi Pao and Mien O for a contemporary look. There are men’s and women’s collections as well as home products and accessories, all of which use wonderful quality silks and cottons in mainly neutral colors. Think Chinese Armani and you get the idea.
Blue Shanghai White
Hand-painted china from the ancient capital of Jingdezhen. The Ming-style wooden furniture and trays incorporating porcelain tiles are very attractive.
Bund 22 Shanghai
Originally built in 1906 for the foreign banking institution Swire Pacific, Bund 22 was later turned into a pen factory. It was recently renovated and reopened as a restaurant, bar and shopping complex. Seeing the six-story, red-brick building alone is worth a visit (particularly impressive are the views over the Huangpu River and the three inner balconies in the grand atrium). Skip Bund 22’s largely generic luxury stores and head straight to the restaurants on the upper floors. Options include everything from high-end Japanese to a Californian wine bar, as well as an outpost of Shanghai stalwart El Willy.
BYPAC Pearls & Cashmere
Chang & Biorck
Chang & Biorck could be described as China’s version of Marimekko. The Swedish designers behind the brand are inspired by Asian art and architecture and use Chinese materials such as silk, bone china, lacquer ware and Mongolian wool, but their items have a distinctly Scandinavian energy.
This chic showroom (there are three in Beijing) of contemporary furniture in the 798 Art District also sells sleek house wares and has a tea shop.
I didn’t have time to try Dave, but he is reputed to be one of the very best tailors for both men and women, putting 40 hours into each suit. You can buy fabric here or find great quality at his shop in the Xuhai district.
Design Republic is the flagship store of creative architectural duo Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu, who also run the hip Shanghai architectural and design firm Neri&Hu. The space does not disappoint, but even better are the home and design collections featuring a well-edited mix of local and foreign brands. Design-interested visitors should come to see some of the most inventive products and furniture produced by China’s hottest up-and-coming designers. Located in the trendy Jing'An district, in a red-brick building that used to house a police station, Design Republic shares a space with uber-cool restuarant the Commune Social.
Dong Jia Du Fabric Market
First stop: If you are adventurous and like a bargain, make the Dong Jia Du Fabric Market your first stop. In fact, the really well prepared should pack jackets or suits to have copied. Otherwise, you’ll have to choose from their basic styles. Tailors (shifu) will need a few days to whip something up, so go early in your stay. Prices are based on the meters of fabric, plus the tailor’s fee. They will punch a price into a calculator and you bargain by tapping in a counteroffer. Recommended stalls: Zhang Hai Qin (No. 118) specializes in cashmere (blazers, suits and coats) and cotton shirts (86-138-1893-2522). No. 170 sells high-quality cotton for summer suits and dresses (86-138-0582-1021), and generally uses Chang Guo Sheng of No. 229 to do its tailoring. Open 9–6.
Fashion mavens interested in Chinese designers must make time for this three-story boutique in Jing’An. The design studio—with a winding staircase, whitewashed floors and decorated nooks throughout—is a delight to explore, but even better to browse; the boutique stocks a curated selection of cutting-edge local designers like Chictopia, Uma Wang and Xander Zhou. The fashions are pricey, but if you want the best Chinese designers, this is the place to go.
The soft cashmere creations on sale here may not be the super discounted wares you expect in Shanghai, but the quality is spot-on, which is not always a given when it comes to cashmere according to personal shopper Francine Martin who highly recommends this boutique. Feine has an especially terrific selection of children’s sweaters and accessories and the designs are timeless and very wearable.
Yes, it old-fashioned and, yes, the service is poor and, yes, the layout of goods is last century. The main reason to go there is for a one-stop-shop look at what is available in the capital city. The state-owned emporium has it all—porcelain, jade, carpets, furniture—at prices that are nonnegotiable. Have a gander, decide what suits your taste, and then head to a specialist store that can offer friendlier service and better prices.
Beijing’s favorite international bookstore (now closed) has opened a branch in Shanghai. So now you can pick up magazines, newspapers and books (not just gardening ones) from Italy, England, France and America. There’s a huge selection of books on China and Shanghai. The sleek, two-story space has already become an expat hangout, thanks to its regular author readings and its upstairs café.
Hong Merchant is a gallery of Chinese art and antiques owned by a French archaeologist and her partner, who travel throughout Asia for their wares. Located in a colonial-style villa in the French Concession, the gallery mixes in contemporary pieces and paintings throughout the house. By appointment only.
Hong Qiao Pearl Market
A multistory mall that has just one main featured product—pearls—of differing color quality. Treat it a visit as a fun exercise rather than a serious pearl-buying expedition. The pearls are presented in hundreds of ways, and those with Chinese-style designs and motifs make smashing souvenirs or gifts, regardless of their provenance or quality. This is New China in action, where the state and a free market collide. The stallholders appear to be entrepreneurs, instead of state employees, judging by the way they persuasively approach shoppers with well-honed spiels, in the kind of stilted textbook English that is so pervasive in China. Still, all you need to be an effective entrepreneur is a decent sales pitch and the ability to convert from renminbi (it translates as “people’s money”) to dollars in a flash. Some of the individual-stall jewelry designs are funky, while the upper-level stores are swankier places for more serious pearl connoisseurs. Along the sides of the cavernous floor are closed-in stalls selling memorabilia and knickknacks.
Jian Ping Fashion
In this shop, part of the fun Taikang Road shopping district, you can find cashmere shawls with rabbit trim and intricately embroidered pashminas.
Part of the Red Town artist enclave, Joyce Warehouse is a two-level outpost of the famous Hong Kong–based fashion and lifestyle brand. Some of the items they carry are marked-down leftover stock, so it’s a great place to treasure hunt.
This showcases the clothes of a number of local designers but doesn’t seem to keep regular hours. In the courtyard, which has an outdoor café, be sure to check out the shops.
Chen Yifei, a successful contemporary artist before his death in 2005, is the man behind this unique store in Xintandi. His flagship location blends Eastern and Western aesthetics, with stylish housewares for sale on the ground floor and fashion on the second.
Lost and Found
Opened by an American expat, Lost and Found is a lifestyle shop with a vintage sensibility that sells furniture and clothing. The former noodle shop has been transformed into a light and airy boutique that feels historic and modern at the same time. There are wonderful eclectic treasures here.
Lu Lu Cheung
Lu Lu Cheung opened her first boutique in Hong Kong in 1992 and has since emerged as one of Asia’s most respected women’s clothing designers. Her designs are sexy and trendy; some consider her a Chinese version of Theory. This is the branch at Sanlitun Village North.
Madame Mao’s Dowry
Owned by an expat with a great eye, this shop showcases wonderful antique Chinese furniture (a lacquered Chinese cabinet sells for $1,200), Mao memorabilia, like Mao statues from the ’60s, and modern silk and embroidered clothing and purses by local designers. The assortment is very seductive.
Mary Ching Shoes
The British-Chinese designer Alison Mary Ching Yeung has used her unique East and West heritage to found China’s first luxury shoe and accessories brand. Her picturesque flagship store, which sells everything from shoes to handbags, is located in the former French Concession. Mary Ching is aimed squarely at a newly wealthy Chinese clientele: shoes use ample gold, silver and crocodile skin. Still the shoes, if occasionally outlandish, are incredibly constructed and a lot of fun.
Old China Hand Reading Room
This café carries a great selection of books on old Shanghai and is a pleasant place to linger.
Panjiayuan Antiques Market
Only in modern-day China would you find a huge bust of Mao Zedong parked next to the Buddha. It is a conundrum how Mao has managed to maintain his halo, at home and abroad, even having his portrait hanging over the Forbidden City, while other 20th- century dictators such as Stalin, Hitler and Pol Pot are reviled. The market is a hodgepodge of stuff, none of it particularly valuable, ranging from giant stone and marble statues to copies of Mao’s Little Red Book and pretty much everything in between. There is also a furniture section, with a few stores advanced enough to offer shipping services. Unfortunately, on the market fringes are hawkers selling beautiful animal pelts—tiger skins and the like—from endangered species. China is supposedly clamping down on such nefarious activities, but like the copyright pirates, they seem to operate with impunity.
Drawing on the Chinese tradition of tailoring, Pye has created a temple to the well-fitted shirt. You will find beautiful feminine renditions on the button down but also draped cotton tees in dozens of luscious colors.