Fabric Market–Haitian

The tour around the fabric market was the first time for me to see so many tailors working at the same space. It was also an interesting experience to see them selling fabrics of great varieties and really distinctive patterns for different uses.

Each stand seems to have a special focus. Some sell Qipao and Cheongsams, so the fabrics that they put in display are mainly silk with beautiful and colorful patterns. Antonius took us to a stand that sells really diverse-patterned silk fabrics. Many of them were hung on the plastic models as samples. However, I wonder how in specific can these fabrics can be employed in making Qipaos, since the beautiful dress usually has a consistent color tone with a minor of colorful decorations. There are also shops that sell suits and evening dresses. The fabrics that these shops use are much darker in color, and they have multiple colors of the same tone, so that customers can pick a best color for their tie/overcoat/pants. Their fabrics are also much harder and flatter, but to me they are less interesting and more rigid in style.

My impression of a fabric market or a tailor shop came largely from stories of my mother. Some times she went back home showing me a new piece of clothes, and I could only try to re-imagine how the tailor did so when fabrics were still scattered and not formed together. This time walking on my ow with a refreshed eye, I was able to see how the process took place from cutting a fabric to sewing small beads onto the collar and the waist part. I also saw a lot of sample clothes, especially wool coat. I would assume that they were of good quality, but the design really depended so much on the designers capability to create interesting patterns or combinations that tailor to or experiment with the body. For example, after walking past stand to stand with the same stye of coat (an “A” shape from under the waist), I ran into a coat that had a mermaid style skirt that is stitched onto the coat. Some other overcoat they had were of elegantly beautiful colors, one of them being my mother’s favorite dark green. Compared to the notions market, this market was definitely less crowded, but, added onto that clothes were covering a large part of the entrance, I didn’t end up working up my courage to walk in and talking to the owner.

The B1 stands were much brighter and more diverse in options. Partly it is because of the roof is higher, but also there were small spare parts to choose from, such as zippers and buttons. One of the most impressive fabric of me at  the B1 section was the velvet and velveteens. They looked very elastic, soft and thick, and the light gave them a particularly shiny texture that is not sharp but smooth. The different stands offer a wide variety of the velvets and related thick fabrics. We first stopped at a stand which also had other fabric styles: Ben spotted one that resembles thick glass-plastic! It occurred to me that indeed we all had our blind spots and we tend to spot things that we individually perceived as consistent. In this sense, I was more than inspired to walk through stands with my classmates and see through the way they saw. I ended up noticing two shiny fabrics with fluorescent pieces attached upon, as well as velveteens with extremely extraordinary color patterns. I also got to buy some buttons and saw some ribbons, but I think for spare parts as such, the notions market will be a better deal because they have more varieties and more stands in competition with each other.

People at the fabric market were all actually super friendly and had a sense of community. Perhaps it is because the space is much smaller, they talked to each other, using each others’ measuring rulers and helping each other bargain with us:) When we buy cotton fabrics from one owner, he gave us a pretty fare price because we were students; at the last stop, I saw a girl with two bunches of jasmine flowers coming in, and asking if she could store the flower at his space for an hour. This community made the whole experience a lot more interactive rather than scattered and messy. I guess it is partly because of my project I was looking at the fabrics with a more targeted and focused eye, which must have made me ignore many other elements. Next time I would really want to come back again and explore in more details, maybe even getting a tailored dress!

One thought on “Fabric Market–Haitian

  1. Read and accepted. This market is especially friendly, but I feel it is slightly catered to a local Shanghainese / foreign crowd in the first two floors, where you saw the Qipao and Cheongsams. So they aren’t necessarily traditional in design. Great observations.

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