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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here, a French designer has enlisted local artisans to create her beautiful embroidered linens and children’s clothes. There’s a Gallic delicacy and sophistication to the styles but the palette is vibrant.
Royal Gold Thread
Shanghai’s go-to tailor for top-of-the-line designs, Royal Gold Thread makes custom qípáo and cheongsam, the traditional Chinese evening wear for men and women, respectively. Cheongsam should fit like a glove and are tailored to flatter the female figure, so it is recommended to have four fittings, but for the sake of time, they can be made with just two adjustments. The stunning designs often feature head-to-toe embroidery, gold trimmings and dragon patterns.
This is the atelier of a French expat who pairs European standards with Asian textiles to create unusual bags and scarves. There are also smaller, fun accessories and gifts on sale.
One of the city's best places to find very elegant Chinese style clothing that will appeal to a high-end Westerner. The Taiwanese brand already had an outpost in Paris on Rue St. Honoré, so only the Bund would do for its Shanghai boutique and it is a glorious addition to the international labels filling in the grand riverfront facades. Expect splendid tailored silks and cottons in understated colors with embroidered details like butterfly or dragonfly adornments and brocade hems.
“The prices here are ridiculous,” said my guide when I visited Spin during my recent trip, but he meant it in a good way. If you only visit one ceramics store while in Shanghai, it should be Spin, which is owned and run by the same people as acclaimed Japanese restaurant Shintori. The designs are modern, creative and whimsical, and even the most beautiful, delicate pieces are more than fairly priced (no need to bargain here). Favorite discoveries included a set of sixteen tiny, paper-thin sake cups, each a little different from the next; a votive with teeny star cut-outs; and oversized coffee mugs with a single brightly colorful line of paint slicing the smooth glaze. Be sure to ask to get your purchases wrapped up in one of the store’s stylish wooden boxes; the perfect present to take home. Spin also has a branch in Beijing.
This tiny boutique on a side street off of the Bund carries the beautiful hand-embroidered silk shoes that are designed by a Shanghainese woman and made by local craftsmen. There are a variety of models and many patterns with fish and flowers. Wrapped in little velvet sleeves, they make great gifts.
Woo Scarf & Shawl
This boutique specializes in embroidered scarves and shawls at very good prices. It's part of Taikang Road, home to many other fine shops to browse.