Don't be surprised when you hear seasoned travelers (and shoppers) refer to Shanghai as the "Paris of the East." While the two cities have many differences, they have much in common on the fashion front; Shanghai (like the City of Light) is a shopper’s paradise. As China's style capital, Shanghai is home to a population of insatiable shopping addicts—and the fashion landscape is primed to cater to their favorite pastime. This bustling metropolis has become one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, with all the luxury brands you are already familiar with...and then some. Expect streets lined with luxury labels, boisterous plazas, colorful open-air markets, glitzy malls and trendy unique boutiques.
The endless luxury offerings make sense once you consider the stats: more than half of the world's retail development resides in China, with 35 million square feet currently under construction in Shanghai alone. Major roads like Huaihai Road and West Nanjing Road are lined with shiny new malls—which are home to glittering flagships for key labels like Prada, Chanel and the like. Boutique luxury brands to love—like Isabel Marant and Victoria Beckham—fill the racks in department stores like Lane Crawford. In addition, expect to find edgy international shops, like 10 Corso Como and Dong Liang, curating a completely unique retail experience for their demanding clientele.
If you're heading to Shanghai, sharpen up your bargaining skills and increase your credit card limit. Warning: You may need to buy some additional suitcases at the end of your trip. Here, our expert tips to shopping this complex and exciting retail Mecca.
THE HIT LIST
Almost six miles from end to end, Nanjing Road is separated by those in the know into two sections: Nanjing East Road and Nanjing West Road. Here, you’ll find small shops and markets selling original jewelry, accessories and food, as well as storefronts of larger, more commonly known brands. From here, you can also visit Reel Mall, on Nanjing West Road, which is full of high-end stores from both Chinese and International designers. It’s worth stopping into Shanghai No. 1 Department Store(800-830 E. Nanjing Road); as the name states, it is the first and oldest state-run store specializing in domestic goods. The farther east you walk on Nanjing Road, the more crowded with shoppers you can anticipate the street will become, filled with passersby gazing up at the neon lit signs that line both sides of the street. Eventually, Nanjing Road hits the famous Bund, which is always a great break from the shopping scene–but unfortunately, not from the crowds.
Often dubbed the Champ Elysees of Shanghai, Huaihai Road is split up into three sections and is home to over 400 boutiques and specialty shops. While the fast fashion staples like H&M and Zara can be found here, there are also plenty of boutiques with clothing brands from China, Korea and Japan. Head here to find all the hidden gems that you won’t be seeing on the streets back in the US.