The Fabric Market

Jeff modelling his new coat in front of our new painting of old Shanghai.

The Fabric Market on the South Bund


Jeff and I went to the fabric market on the South Bund to buy a long black winter coat to go over his suit, and a pair of dress pants to fit his now thinner physique. I went to the fabric market, a cool place where you pick the tailor, the clothes, the fabric, and haggle the price. Then they make it for you. The tailor is there in the shop when customers come. He doesn’t do the talking because he doesn’t speak much English. There is always a woman who can talk to the foreigners in English. He must do all the sewing in the evenings because his sewing machine isn’t there.

The fabric market is a three story building chockablock with booths inside and outside where samples of clothes are there for you to try on. Fabric is there, too, in all colors and types. If you want to try on the item, no problem. They will drape a cloth across a corner of the store for you to have some privacy. If you don’t see the fabric you want, no problem, the friend’s booth next door probably has it and the saleswoman just goes there to show you fabric. Jeff and I went and looked for the type of coat he wanted. We found one almost perfect in a booth outside the building, but a booth inside the building had the perfect coat. Jeff tried it on. It was a bit tight. They measured him and we picked a black cashmere wool. They said 1200 rmb was the original price, but they would discount it to 880 (about $147 U.S.) I haggled them down to 550 rmb (about $92). It would be ready in a week.

A week and a day later I went to pick up the coat and ask for some pants to be made. I had a pair of Jeff’s pants with me. There were a European man and his twenty-something son already in the shop picking up their clothes. The dad tried on a shirt over his undershirt, then took it off. I didn’t recognize the accent as they spoke English to the saleswoman. She had a moment for me and I gave her my receipt. Could I do some shopping? The coat is ready, but the tailor left it at home. He could be back with it in 30 minutes. I talked with her for a few minutes to order the pants. When I turned around, the Euorodad had his pants off! I looked away. I’m sure he had underwear under the shirt tails, but they weren’t boxers, something much smaller. I didn’t look closer to ascertain! I guess he didn’t want to wait for them to draw a cloth for him to change behind!

I wandered around for 40 minutes or so and saw no other risqué scenes. I looked around at the shops and the fabric. Finally the tailor returned with the coat. It was beautiful. That was a week ago, and just in time for the bone chilling 35 degree weather we had that night. I go back tomorrow for the pants.

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