Sunday, December 10, 2006

Shanghai - shopping

The Marc Jacobs and Gucci stores across the road from my hotel. Two totally different brand personalities living in harmony next to each other. Marc Jacobs being the sweet, cute, quirky girl and Gucci being the sexy, ball breaking woman.

The only two things that excited me were the Marc Jacobs store and the cheap leather bags. Shanghai is a paradise for fake designer bags, but to get the good quality leather versions you need to venture a bit out of town to Xi Pu market. It consists of two five-storey buildings that have rows and rows of tiny clothing and accessories shops within them. I had never seen that many clothes in my entire life. I didn’t buy any clothes because it was all winter stuff and I felt overwhelmed with all the choice. The clothes on display was mostly tacky, colourful, bad quality embellished sweaters and jeans. The Chinese really love embellished jeans with ugly washes and creases.

tacky embellished jeans

Outside the shopping centre we were approached by a man who showed us a folder of photos of fake designer bags, watches and t-shirts. I refused to go, because I am opposed to fake designer products, but my mum wanted to go so I had to follow. It would have been impossible for us to find each other in the maze of the shopping centre. The man led us through the maze and into one of the tiny stores. The shop keeper pushed the back wall to reveal a small room of fake designer bags. My mum bought about four bags from this shop. The man then carried my mum’s shopping bag for her and took us to another secret room of fake bags. I actually found three uniquely designed leather bags that were not the typical Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chloe, Hermes, and Fendi rip offs. In typical style, I managed to pick out the two most expensive bags in the store. They were one of a kind designs and were not covered in logos. I hadn’t seen those two bags sold anywhere else. I couldn’t even find them on eBay when I got home. We bargained my bags down to $125 each, which is a bargain for a unique leather bag. My three year search for the perfect leather bag was finally over. My mum bought another six bags from this store. Now we had three massive shopping bags to carry throughout the shopping centre, but the shopping guides carried them for us. They didn’t even ask for money at the end of our shopping journey. We offered to buy them lunch, but they were reluctant to accept it. We bought it anyway so they were forced to eat. I think they are paid commission by the shops.

On Nanjing Road East, the main shopping strip in town, we were also approached by hawkers selling fake bags and watches. My mum followed two of them (she can’t say no to fake bags), and they each led us through dark alleyways and into blackened apartment blocks that were hundreds of years old. They took us to small rooms that hid the fake goods. One shop had a video camera set up in the alley so they could monitor if the police were coming.

Nanjing Road East

Nanjing Road East

Nanjing Road West is where all the international designer shops were. In addition to my favourite Marc Jacobs store, there was Gucci, Hermes; massive Louis Vuiton, Prada and Christian Dior stores; Lagerfeld Gallery, Marni, Missoni, and many other American, European and Japanese couture designers. It was disappointed that the Anna Sui store was not open yet.

In terms of mid-range brands, there was Zara but no Top Shop! H&M was going to open next month. I guess it was good there was no Top Shop, otherwise I would have blown my budget!

The French Concession had rows of cute, slightly upmarket boutiques that featured a range of local and international styles of clothes. Many of the shops stocked clothes that were sourced from Xi Pu market, but sold at four times the price. I found a few boutiques that had international designer factory samples, sold at bargain prices. Of course, most clothes are made in China, so it would be easy to get samples from a range of international designers. I found a Viktor & Rolf jacket for only $90! I doubt it was a fake – Viktor & Rolf are not that well known of a label to justify making fakes. I was really delighted and surprised to find the Alice McCall for Target dress that I liked. Unfortunately the only two for sale were both in size 10.

A few people were selling Groucho Marx style face masks that had a whistle attached to the nose.

Groucho Marx mask

People still balance these things on their shoulders to sell fruit:

I come all the way to China only to find a Jeans West.

Jeans West on Nanjing Road East in Shanghai

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