Shanghai’s Hutongs, South Bund

A month ago I was looking at “Places” in iPhoto and I realized that in my journey to document Shanghai’s sartorial culture I had neglected an entire section of the city… Granted, it was the South Bund that barely anyone goes to, but I felt as if I were missing a piece of the puzzle…

So over the next month, I pretty much covered the area, and discovered many great things in the process…

The South Bund area is the least gentrified out of Shanghai Proper (French Concession, Jing An, and Huang Pu). It has remained a haven for locals while rent in the rest of the city skyrockets due to demand by foreigners silly enough to pay for expensive high-rises, and it was great to see that the locals have maintained their own, local way of doing things.

I happened across an outdoor fabric market the other day that was a bit reminiscent of Beijing’s hutongs, and it was great to see how and where some of the locals procured their garments.

It seemed like some local clothing companies sourced fabrics here, but it also seemed like individuals could also purchase their own fabrics to make their own clothes. This seemed to be the discount bin (minus the bin), and I can understand why from the colors alone…

But other stalls were more nicely kept and had better merchandise, such as this one. Although the quality of the materials is not great, I’m sure some local people can make much better clothes than what is available to them in malls and other retail outlets in China.

Shanghai’s hutongs had a different vibe from the rest of the city I discovered, and this unique vibe can best be summed up by these ladies:

These Gen X-ers are old school and keeping shit real like this part of town just is. They are not swayed by global trends or the world speeding by at neck-breaking speed… They maintain their own course and their own style in their own part of town while young Chinese people are swooned by the influx of Western “luxury” brands and labels….. And for that you gotta give ’em respect.

Best Dressed Generation:
Gen X – 55 points + 25 points for being cooler than you and me = 80 points
Gen Y – 50 points
Gen Z – 0 points (posts to come!)