City where retail therapy is tailor- made
The dazzling shopping scene in Shenzhen is not for the fainthearted. Hayley Bolton attempts to master the art of haggling, and gets tailored in China’s most up- and- coming city
THINK you could give Rebecca Bloomwood a run for her money in Confessions of a Shopaholic? Even this credit-card-hoarding crazy redhead would be overwhelmed by what’s on offer in Shenzhen.
It may be southern China’s major finance hub, but Shenzhen is rapidly becoming famous for its dirt-cheap shopping. Shenzhen’s shopping scene is like no other, and mastering the art should be worthy of a reward. It can be daunting for first-timers and is often stressful, but shopping in Shenzhen can also be great fun.
If you don’t have long, Shenzhen’s one-stop shopping destination is Lowu Commercial City, which is right beside the main train station, near Hong Kong’s border. You will know you are in the right place because the salespeople will be at your side before you are even through the doors. Luowu and Luoho are spelling variations of Lowu, and are used interchangeably, but they all refer to the same place.
Don’t get to Lowu anytime before 10am, because nothing is open and there are no cafes to have a coffee in while you wait. But once the doors open, it is every shopper for themselves. Don’t expect any peace or quiet until you are back in your hotel room with the door firmly shut.
More than 1500 shops over five levels make Lowu a full two-day job – at least. If you want tailoring done, which is reason enough alone to visit Shenzhen, you may want to allow longer. Swarms of sales assistants will be trying to sell you their product, from DVDs to Prada handbags and everything in between.
If you even glance at something in a shop window you can expect to be chased up and down escalators to a tiring chant of, ‘‘ Missy Missy, special price for you, today only’’.
If you plan to ‘‘ get tailored’’ in Lowu – and I recommend you do – make it your priority. The more time you allow for fittings and alterations, the more likely you are to walk away with something you will like. The tailors in Shenzhen are amazing.
If you have pants or dresses that are a perfect fit, bring them from home for the tailor to copy as this will guarantee good results. If you want something made from scratch, find a tailor who has similar designs in their windows to what you are after. Asking a tailor who specialises in suit jackets to create an oriental Chinese gown could easily end in disaster, and vice versa.
I had a pair of pants made at one tailor, which I still was not happy with after two days of alterations, despite being made from a pair I had brought from home. But I did pay $ 39 instead of the $ 180 I had paid for the original pair at home.
I ordered a cashmere jacket to be made from scratch at another tailor who promised a 12-hour turnaround.