Shanghai is such an amazing city. There is such an interesting juxtaposition here between the traditional older Shanghainese who still practice Tai Chi in the mornings in parks and the young Shanghainese of tomorrow who work in futuristic skyscrapers. Originally colonised as a port by the English and then the French and Americans, today there are people here from all over world who call Shanghai home. A lot of people here don’t speak English, so don’t be rude and expect them to understand it. Learning some basic Mandarin and hand gestures gets you by in some situations, and I’ve found it’s also handy to screenshot simple phrases and street names in Chinese and present them to people when getting around.
Amidst the little laneways and the hustle and bustle of the hawkers of yesterday you can also find megamalls which encompass not only the global fast fashion superbrands but also the crème de la crème of luxury brands. Hidden between Chinese translations of street names and Google Maps there are a collection of stores that transcend your average Starbucks shopping experience.
These obviously aren’t all the stores that Shanghai has to offer – there are countless small boutiques everywhere selling fakes, factory seconds and backdoor products and having been into as many as possible I can also tell you that there are some boutiques that stock some good stuff but for every 10 stores you walk into you might find good stuff in one.
There are also some notable mentions that should go in here that I didn’t totally cover like SVS2 and Three Society both which are Shanghainese brands with a cool guy hipster aesthetic.
Thirdly, the fast food brands have a big presence here with monolithic stores. Check out HuaiHai Middle Road, Nanjing West Road and Peoples Square for brands like Uniqlo, Nike, H&M, and so on.
Lastly, and this one is only for the most patient and seasoned of shoppers, who can spend hours and hours going through aisles and aisles and floors and floors of malls and malls of crap to find a few good bits, there is the wholesale market. (This isalso where a lot of the small street boutiques source their product.)
Without lying, there are literally thousands of stores within a dozen malls here where you sift through everything from ‘Burbelly’ and ‘YiFeng Fashion’ clothing to Abercrombie & Fitch from the back of the truck. There are gems to be found here but explaining store locations requires some next-level Google Maps technology.
Wholesale Markets can be found on Henan Middle Road near Qipu Road. There is a little street parallel to Henan called Jangxi North Road, where you can get some quick eats for mega-cheap that are super tasty. The instant noodle rating for the wholesale markets is one instant noodle packet to a few days’ worth. The reason it gets a mention is that, because of its economy, your girlfriend will love this place.
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