Every girl has her dream dress. Unfortunately, these dreams rarely become reality. To get a dress design tailor made is often too expensive and rarely ends up how you once imagined it. However, in the bustling fabric market in Shanghai they will make you whatever you want, in whatever fabric you want and for prices you most definitely want.

The endless choice of materials and colours from one stall

Located in a massive four storey building sit hundreds of fabric stalls that together make up the Lujiabang Lu Fabric Market. Mountains of silk, cotton and chiffron in any colour or print you can imagine are hidden away in small dens where their owners sit waiting for customers. Men can be seen choosing the right fabric for their custom made £50 suit, whilst women take in photos of the latest red carpet gown and for around £40 get a replica made to measure. Sounds of haggling can be heard from every corner as customers bargain for the best price.

A stall in the fabric market


When a price is agreed two tailors begin to measure every inch of their new customer, carefully recording each number and nattering away in Mandarin. Before they can begin work on the dress discussions are made about the necessity of a lining. Decisions are made about how quickly it needs to be finished. Exclamations are made when the customer shows just how high she wants the slit up the leg to be, or how low the neck line.

Any design can be copied. A favourite here is the Chanel suit.


Braver tourists take in their own designs drawn on pieces of
paper. Simple clear drawings are presented to the tailors in hope of avoiding
the language barrier through pictures, although they have little to fear as
their English is often very good.

A taylor stands proudly next to the finished dress




Excitement builds in the market when girls come to try on their finished dresses. No doubt she will attract a small crowd around her as they murmur approvingly. The magical moment when one sees a custom floor length gown fitted and designed perfectly for its loving owner and knowing that three days previously it was a mere fantasy. A dream come true for the shoppers of Shanghai.





One response to “News from China! The Shanghai Fabric Market by Caz St Quinton”

  1. Rubby says:


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