Luohu Commercial City is like if you condensed Dongmen into one five story building, took away all the hardcore techno shrieking from fizzling stereos, public lectures on cucumber slicing, ethically disgraceful street barbecue and consumerist filth - you know, the character - then added a lot of legit tailors and positioned it so you could toss a frisbee from the roof to Hong Kong.
It’s a self-contained China shopping mecca whose greatest asset, besides location, are those tailors, which we’ll focus on today. As soon as you leave the escalator on the 5th (or 4th) floor you’ll be met with the slew of fabrics. Take in the warren of textiles, get lost in the silk, and slide out only to slip in to linen. This well known secret is also well worth the trek.
What you put into this place, you get out of it. Most conceivable apparels can be made here. And if the tailor is honest, they’ll tell you their limitations. Stay away from the ones that don’t. The mainstays here are suits and dresses, so those are the prices we honed in on. Start haggling at half or less what you expect to pay.
They vary widely - by fabric, style, tailor, time, how you look, whether you’re alone, how much you’re buying, the cut of your jib, your Chinese level, Cantonese, etc. Point being, these numbers are researched, but they’re not gospel. Are the shops all the same? No and yes. The best way to go about this is the long way: plan to spend a while shopping around and comparing. The longer you explore, the more you’ll realize that some of these shops do specialize in certain apparel. Patiently inquire and bargain at multiple places, find the price you like, and go for it. Either way, tailored clothes are cheaper than pre-fab H&M here. Revel in it.
For suits, the starting price for cotton seems to hover around 750. With a plain shirt, after a haggle, you’re looking at somewhere between 500 and 650 for a single order. You’ll pay less if you buy more than one. If you’ve never purchased a tailored suit before, be prepared to select every detail from cuff to collar. They have books of styles to choose from. And for dress shirts, the starting price is about 150, which can be worked down to 100. Again, less if you’re buying more.
Dresses get complicated. There are qipaos (Chinese dresses) starting at 400-500. Bargain and you can make that a few hundred. Pre-fabricated ones go for 80-150, to give you an idea of the real value. Styles like the ones below go for 500 to 800, I’m told, but another tailor quoted 180 to 380 for similar designs. Pre-fabs run as low as 50 for simplistic looks. There more options than suits, so the more frills (literally) the more funds.
Standard dress options
This mammoth edifice is known for being spitting distance from Hong Kong with a reputation for all the usual suspects of a fake market - watches, handbags, shoes, sunglasses. It’s certainly meandering, but not quite as difficult to fathom as the other places where these are available. Shop around.
If you go out Luohu Station Exit A, take the first escalator up, then veer left before the second one, you’ll be at the underground entrance. Jam into the escalator and head for the 5th or 4th floors. Coming from Hong Kong? Take one escalator down to Exit A and go right. Coming in a car? It's the big building across from the train station. Show the cabbie the address below.
Underground entrance near Exit A, one of a few ways to get there
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