China: Shanghai's five shopping hotspots for men

By Andrew Koubaridis, Kris Shannon

Kris Shannon and Andrew Koubaridis get suited and booted in China

Many visitors buy suits and shoes in Shanghai. Photo / Getty Images
Many visitors buy suits and shoes in Shanghai. Photo / Getty Images

Fakes Market

Before visiting the Fakes Market I had never been given instructions for a shopping trip. But that's exactly what happened as we stepped inside the crowded, sprawling collection of stalls filled with counterfeit, defective and smuggled merchandise from the world's biggest brands.

Our host laid down the ground rules, akin to a boxing referee in the moments before a prize fight, then turned us loose.

The first piece of advice was to stare straight ahead, though that did little to lessen the cries of "Cheap watch!" and "I make you good deal!" as we walked past the eager merchants.

The next bit of wisdom came in the form of a reminder about leverage: considering numerous stalls were flogging the exact same goods, the threat to walk away unless the price was lowered was never empty.

Finally, there was the reminder about there being more than meets the eye in some stores.

Don't fancy a Gucci, Louis Vuitton or Guess handbag? Just ask for the Prada and watch as a hidden collection materialises from behind a moveable wall.

Plaza 66

About as far from the Fakes Market as you can get, Plaza 66 is one of the biggest malls in China with six brightly lit, finely polished floors and some of the world's best-known stores.

It was hard to escape the brands; from the four floors Louis Vuitton occupied to the small children dressed head to toe in labelled clothes, Plaza 66 is a luxury goods fan's dream - but will be your bank manager's nightmare.

Notwithstanding my quick calculations and currency conversion, this place was so pricey it was as if the big stores were trying to outdo one other in the expensive stakes.

It would certainly explain why the shop attendants were so eager to get us through the doors.

Everything about the place is opulent, even the gold escalators that separate the floors that wind around a big central atrium.

Fabric Market

If that kind of opulence is a little rich for your wardrobe, head to the fabrics market and get suited up in designer style for a bargain basement price. But be warned: have a clear picture in your head of what you're after, otherwise you could be there for hours.

The options are limitless for seemingly any item of clothing desired. Fabrics, styles, colours - take your pick.

Once you've settled on all of the above, the tape measure comes out to ensure the new wardrobe is tailored to perfection.

The suits we had measured up took about a week to make and another week to be mailed out to New Zealand, but it was worth it. Although, this author and his spiffy new royal blue suit were inexplicably denied the best dressed award at the next staff party.

Bridal Market

All decked out in flash new gears, the bachelor in your party may like to head to the local park. It's not exactly a great place to meet women, but it's an ideal location to find a wife.

Spread throughout the park on every Saturday morning are stalls of a different kind - those in which overbearing parents advertise all that their precious daughters have going for them in the hope of luring a rich, but lonely, businessman for a husband.

Heights, weights and physical attributes are all listed, as pushy parents attempt to set up their offspring so they will finally leave the family home.

And there are even a few men offering themselves to members of the fairer sex, although they can be rather picky.

According to our guide, one such seller suggested, in rather crude terms, that overweight women need not apply.

Shanghai Wet Market

This is a supermarket trip like no other - and I would probably leave it to the new bride if I were to relocate to Shanghai. The fact it sells food is really its only similarity to any store I'm familiar with because in no other market I've been to do they kill your kai there - often after you have selected it yourself.

We saw few other foreigners in the wet market we visited but the place was packed with locals, perusing everything from live chickens, fish, turtles and many types of fruit and vegetables. Some I had never heard of.

The fish are killed, scaled and chopped up right in front of you - you can't argue you don't know what you're buying - while meat is cut and left for an inordinate length of time, with only a fan or occasional wave from the vendor to keep away the flies.

The chickens are kept in small cages, although some were lucky enough to wander free behind the counter. Perhaps not so lucky, though: they were next on the (chopping) block.

It didn't look clean but that could just be my Western sense of what such areas should be like, and the locals, all jostling for a bargain, didn't seem at all moved.


Shanghai Checklist

GETTING THERE: Air New Zealand flies daily to Shanghai.

ONLINE: See cnto.org


Kris Shannon and Andrew Koubaridis travelled as guests of Air New Zealand.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

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