Imagine four crowded floors with winding hallways full of fabric vendors. They will make you a custom fit suit for fifty dollars. Maybe you have a favorite dress that you would wear everyday if you could. At the fabric market they will make you a copy of the dress, in three different colors for cheaper than the original price. And I thought the fake market was dangerous.
This is where I found myself today when puff daddy went to go get measured for his latest pimp suit. I tagged along with a few of my favorite clothing items, but I didn’t expect to be wowed by the fabric market. I thought it was more of a place to get generic business shirts made.
It is so much more.
You can design your own cashmere coat, formal dress, and my personal favorite, leather jacket for a fraction of what you would pay in the U.S. I would be lying to you if I said I didn’t return to my apartment, go directly to google and begin researching the latest designs on shop bop to see if I can get them copied at the fabric market. Shopping in china just became the reason I will come home broke (but with a custom wardrobe).
And I think I may have finally found a replacement leather jacket for my old one. My trusty leather jacket was my mom’s circa 1990. I started to wear it when shoulder pads came back in style, and I absolutely love it, but it may have seen the dance floor of one too many court parties. I am still debating whether or not my new custom designed one will be sporting the shoulder pads.
What I can’t understand is with places such as the fabric market in business why the majority of chinese people appear to have dressed themselves in the dark. Since I live with well dressed foreigners, and my work is full of trendy designers, the best time for me to sample chinese consumer fashion is on the way to work every morning. If you want to fit in with the chinese, here are a few clothing items that should be a staple in your wardrobe:
1. heels. the chinese wear heels everywhere, with any outfit. Kitten heels, wedges, even rainboots with heels. And when I say any outfit, I mean that very seriously. I saw a woman walking down the street in athletic shorts, a mid drift t shirt and wedges grocery shopping. Any college girl in such an outfit would be immidiately judged as someone on a walk of shame, but this was by no means the case. I have seen girls wearing heels as they walk around the running track by my apartment. When coming to Shanghai, just leave your flats at home.
2. a graphic tee with an awkward, innapropriate, or misunderstood english text on the front. “my president is black, my rambo is blue” “kindly walking with diabetics for diabetes is honorable” “there is a party in my pants” are just a few quality phrases I have seen written on tshirts.
3. Mc Hammer parachute pants. this style of pants is absolutely all the rage. they even have them in short versions or overall versions. they pair nicely with graphic tees and stillettos
4. a small plastic rhinestone purse. if you have babysat a girl under the age of ten, you have seen this type of bag. Usually it comes with fake makeup or as storage for polly pockets. but its flashy design is just as popular among the chinese 20+ crowd.
5. bling bling. when you walk into a chinese fashion boutique, they immidiately show you their flashiest, gaudiest pair of rhinestone parachute pants and say “bling bling!” they like rhinestones because it helps them see a few things when they are dressing in the dark.
6.lace lingerie-like dresses. you know the ones that are awkwardly see through, sometimes have boa feathers along the seam…before you travel to shanghai, buy them in a few colors, maybe bejewel them.
7.murse. the quintessential accessory for the shanghai male. getting them in fun colors and patterns with a fake brand name plastered on the front is a must.
While popular trends in shanghai might not be my style (i’ll keep my jeans, flats and understated shirts), it is a a city so energetic, vibrant, and quickly developing, that I shouldn’t expect anything less. Shanghai has everything to brag and show off down to the very last shiny rhinestone. Chinese fashion may be puzzling at times, but who am I to criticize such a bright, bold, and daring style in a city that has seen so much success over the last few years?
Happy Father’s Day! Look for Jeff Carter behind home plate at the cubs game today!