The Shanghai Notions Market, located in Tang Sheng Xia on Renmin Lu, is a building which houses hundreds of stalls each offering a variety of embellishments and functional attachments, primarily for clothes but not excluding other fabric based items such as drapes and table cloths. Amongst some of the popular items on sale were; zippers, fringes, buttons, embroidered fabric pieces, pockets, beads and fabric patches. Lone salesmen, saleswomen and families gather daily within the confines of this three-story building to get their items sold at the market.
Each stall in the building can be identified by an alphanumeric code identifying the block of stores and the number of the shop. They were generally connected back to back, with little alley-ways between each line of shops so that customers can navigate around them. The crammed together stalls utilized most of the floor space on the first and second floors, with little space being left to form passageways. On the second floor, there were a few shops which were not little sheds, like the majority of outlets, but rather mall-like stores, which were bigger. Perhaps the more affluent, longstanding vendors at the market were able to graduate to larger, more official spaces within the market. Moreover, stores catered mostly to a Mandarin-speaking audience, however, a substantial amount of the stores included contact information in English and attempted to communicate with English-speakers in English. This is unlike othermarkets in Shanghai such as Shanghai’s “Fake” market where most vendors speak fluent English in order to bargain with customers. Similar to other markets however, items did not have formal prices listed, prices could be negotiated with vendors once an interest was shown in an item. Due to the nature of the products being sold and the presence of healthy competition within the market, items were generally quite cheap and could be bought wholesale.
Many items, particularly additions such asbuttons had a shiny, metallic appearance but in many instances these items were actually not conductive.It was interesting to prove that many of the items which one would normally assume to be conductive were actually not. Thus, emphasizing the importance of checking fabrics, threads and embellishments with a multimeter before attempting to use them in circuits. Items which were conductive however presented some interesting ideas about how one could incorporate them into circuits to improve the flexibility, durability and beauty of wearable electronics. The conductive materials such as buttons on sale at the market would be ideal to use as switches while other long, flexible conductive embellishments could be an interesting replacement for wires, to improve flexibility and the overall appearance.