Shanghai is synonymous with shopping, and some perceive it a shopper’s paradise. But... it’s no Bangkok, and there’s a reason why millions of Chinese tourists stock up their suitcases with branded items in Europe. Still, its full of cutting-edge boutiques and retro markets to enjoy. Caveat emptor: fakes and pirates abound.
1. High-end boutiques on Nanjing Xi Lu
This western stretch of Nanjing Road drips with luxury brands and malls. City Plaza, Plaza 66 (Henglong Plaza), and Citic Square are home to brands such as Prada, Armani, Chloé, Dior, and Louis Vuitton.
2. Nanjing Xi Lu Fake Market
Exactly what it says on the tin, head to 580 Nanjing Xi Lu if you are not hung up on the real thing at an outrageous price. Electronics (such as Wii and Xbox), fashion (Burberry’s hot right now), suitcases, toys, and more. Bargain hard!
3. Xin Tian Di
You’ll delight in a number of fashion malls (Xin Tian Di Style is the pick for less obvious international brands) and side streets that evoke New York or Paris, with their old stone walls. Plenty of cafes and wine bars to relax in after shopping.
4. Hu & Hu Fine Antiques
Sisters-in-law with a passionate pedigree, including working for Taipei’s National Palace Museum and Sotheby’s, they’ve been delighting customers for nearly 20 years. Author Suzy Gershman said: “This was one of my most fantastic shopping experiences in all my years of doing Born to Shop.”
5. Shanghai Tang
Although originating in Hong Kong, it’s super-upmarket Olde Chinese fusion clothing and homeware designs jump out from their vivid window displays across Shanghai. Signature items include bone china, laquer boxes and filigreed photo frames.
6. Raffles Privato
Looking for a stylish one off, or want to pick the next big thing in fashion design? Head to 245 Madang Lu (Xin Tian Di Style mall) for this concept shop, essentially an incubator for the best students learning their craft at Raffles Design Institute.
7. English book shops
Fuzhou Lu has developed into a book lovers’ area, with many mega options. Garden Books at Changle Lu stands out. It’s a bit smaller, more of a café character than a book barn. They push local authors’ work, if you’d like to read something with a Shanghai flavor.
8. Vintage Cameras
Luban Lu is home to Xing Guang Photographic City, which has everything from the cutting-edge to the ancient. Building C 3rd and 4th floors mock ancient street is where you’ll probably find that super elusive good deal on a classic Leica, Hasselblad or local Seagull.
9. Culture Matters
Not interested in the latest hi-tech sneakers by Nike? Go the opposite direction with some so-uncool-that-they’re-cool FeiYue sneakers. This local brand kicked off in Shanghai in the 20s, and has recently become super trendy in France. These are the el cheapo originals. 15 Dongping Lu.
10. Dongtai Road Curio Market
The whole street is full of treasure and trash. Even if you’re not buying, stroll along and enjoy art deco memorabilia, propaganda items from the Cultural Revolution, antiquarian books. And stuff of unknown provenance. You get what you pay for. Some genuine, others not so much.