For an afternoon of truly original shopping, take the metro to Shaanxi Road station, walk east on Huaihai Road to Ruijin Road, make a right and walk about 15 minutes to Taikang Road. Turn left on Taikang Road to (1) insh (200 Taikang Road; tel. 86 21 6466 5249; www.insh.com.cn), which stands for “In Shanghai.” The boutique sells designer clothing for a younger crowd: microskirts, baby tees with Chinese prints, pea coats with military details. Stop next door at (2) Boutique Cashmere Lover (200 Taikang Road, Room 409; tel. 86 21 6473 7829) for luxurious men’s and women’s sweaters for around $200—with or without Chinese detailing such as a frog closure, neckline buttons, high collars.
Just past insh is No. 3 Lane, a narrow alleyway. Turn left and walk toward a large industrial-looking warehouse. This is the International Artists Factory, packed with designer studios and offices. Walk in and head up to the third floor, for (3) L’Atelier Mandarine (210 Taikang Road, No. 3 Lane, Studio 318), a seamstress’s studio that happens to display her wares—cashmere robes, pajamas, children’s clothes—for sale, along with thick blankets and linen bedding by a designer sharing the space. If she is working, soak up the creative vibes, then head downstairs for (4) Feel (210 Taikang Road, No. 3 Lane, Room 110; tel. 86 21 5465 4519), which makes progressive Chinese dresses for much less than at Shanghai Tang.
Exit the building and turn left; you will find yourself on a pedestrian promenade (No. 7 Lane). Stop into (5) La Vie (210 Taikang Road, No. 7 Lane; tel. 86 21 6445 3585; www.lavie.com.cn), a men’s and women’s boutique chock-full of offbeat clothing and trinkets. Farther along, duck into (6) Shirtflag (210 Taikang Road, No. 7 Lane, Room 8; www.shirtflag.com), which impressed Matt Gross, “Frugal Traveler” columnist, the New York Times, with its “hipster irony” and “communist pop propaganda.” Because they’re interpreted by artists rather than simply copied and mass manufactured, the Maoist tee shirts and messenger bags are more inspired—and better made—here than in the outdoor markets. Something of a cult phenomenon, the shop has also launched other designs, i.e., a series of ironic cartoon pandas.
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