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Where is the best place to buy high quality cotton SHIRT fabric in China?

pingguo

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Please provide the name of the place and address.

A) Do you think is better to bring my own fabric to a top tailor in Beijing or Shanghai or it doesn´t really pay off? I mean, can I save a significant amount of money and get better quality if I do the shopping myself? Can I trust that what is written on the fabric piece? like 100% cotton or 120´s , 180´s cotton...?

B) Do you know where can I buy nice buttons for the shirt, I didn´t like very much the plastic standard buttons I saw at some top tailor in Beijing.

C) What should I request for the fabric, example of a good quality fabric for shirt?
Should I say: 120´s fabric?

D) Someone told me about this place to source fabric in Shanghai:
The SHILIPU VARIETIES CENTER (168 Dongmen Lu, Huangpu District) in Shanghai.
If you know it, what do you think? Any other options -better quality? The price is fixed or I need to negotiate?

THANKS.
 

wsanford-shanghai

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While I can't speak for all of China, I can at least relate my shirt experience in Shanghai.

A. It doesnt really pay off to bring your own fabric and in some cases it more trouble than it's worth. If there is a cutting or tailoring error, there is no extra cloth to recut. Can you trust what the cloth says...depends on the shop and owner. If its from a fabric market, chances are it won't be marked and it will just be what the vendor says.

B. Most places only stock plastic/polyester buttons. It is quite expensive to stock MOP and the few places that do have shell are probably trochas shell. The latter is comparatively off white, but is still quite nice. If in doubt tap or bite the button. Plastic feels soft, shell feels like teeth. If you just need buttons for a shirt or two I can give you some if you're in Shanghai.

C. For oxfords 80's. For all others 100-120 is fine. Higher for special occasion shirts.

D. Mostly lower quality fabrics. Many are poly/mixes. Prices should be 20-25rmb a meter. You need to negotiate everywhere in China.

Overall I would say making shirts in China depends on your overall expectations and what level of shirt you require. Because of the overwhelming worldwide demand for affordable shirts, most shirt makers are large factories and are unwilling to take small orders for higher, individualized quality.

Generally speaking, they would rather make a hundred RTW or small variation MTM shirts a day, rather than carefully producing a couple of high end shirts. Within that hundred if a few are returned they count the overall profit as a win.

Shirts from the fabric market are around 100-200rmb and shirts from better tailoring shops range from 500-700rmb for 2 ply fabric.

If 600-700rmb is ok with you and your trip will take you to HK, I would suggest you take a look at Ascot Chang. Their entry level 2-ply fabric is around 800-900hkd with thin MOP buttons. Their customer service is excellent and you are more likely to get good shirt on your first try. The collars are also much better than what you will find in most tailoring shops. The only drawback is that there is a 3 shirt minimum.
 

pingguo

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Thank You for the complete answer.

I ordered one for 600RMB already, haven´t seen it yet. But if I compare the fabric and details to the one I ordered in Europe is not the same quality, nor the same price, so it´s ok.

Even if I paid more, they couldn´t upgrade the quality and I went to one of the top tailors in Beijing.
 

babygreenspots

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Would like to hear how your tailoring experiences are going.

A) It really depends quite a bit on the tailor as there is quite a lot that is fake out there. You might not want to use fabric you really like or that is expensive unless it is a tailor you have already tried or what that is definitely high end.

B) There are MOP buttons at Muxiyuan and Daxin market. Our tailorship stocks horn and MOP for suiting, though we don't do shirting.

C) You can ask for high thread count fabrics at the better tailorshops.

D) On the SHILIPU VARIETIES CENTER - You need to negotiate. If you regard it like a thrift store - trying to find diamonds in the rough - it can good fun.
 

Shirtmaven

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my fabric partner is importing 100/2 from china.
it is missing something.
maybe the quality of the raw material or the chemicals used in finishing.
fabric out of Japan, india,turkey and europe are superior.

the 100/2 are not awful, just nothing to get excited about
 

rphk91

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I'm an American that moved to Shenzhen in June. I've been experimenting with the tailoring here and can provide some answers, I think.

One answer is to buy fabric from someone in Hong Kong. Or the shirts themselves! I walked into a random tailor shop in Central last week and bought four really nice cotton shirts for $60 USD each. The important thing, though, is that I picked them up the *next afternoon*. I dreaded buying shirts in Hong Kong because the forum favorites all have six to eight week lead times; these guys cranked out four shirts that were quite nice in 30 hours. The buttons on the shirts are thick plastic, and could easily be upgraded to MOP by anyone. The tailor that I found - and any others, I'd assume - are happy to accomodate collar length or other requests. (I have a thing for french placket shirts, and after explaining it to the tailor they write a few characters in Cantonese and say "no problem.")

Another answer would be to buy fabric from someone that can take delivery in the US (or another country) and ship it to you. If that's an option for you, the guys from A Suitable Wardrobe have some chambray on their site (http://store.dynend.com/chambrayshirting.aspx) that has been tempting for when my folks come over for US Thanksgiving. When writing this, I saw that they had the fuchsia back in stock - that may seal the deal for me.

I have found a few - but only a few - decent cottons at the fabric market in Luohu despite my repeated trips there. Sometimes those cottons can be had for 25 RMB/m, but sometimes the guys know what they have and will ask 35 RMB/m. It's a difference of about $3 on the cost of a finished shirt.

The tailoring in Luohu isn't impressive, but it's cheap and a pretty fabric + competent tailoring will mark you as a standout man in what is a very business casual society. You're going to have to trim tag ends around buttonholes yourself, but if you don't mind that the fit can be decent.

A few of the shops have booklets of "Italian Cotton" which may or may not be Italian and may or be cotton. I had good luck with one set of three shirts and bad luck with another set of three shirts. The good luck set were $50 each. but are richly patterned cotton shirts that I'm pleased to own and wear.

For special buttons: I bought big, thick MOP buttons from www.prestigebuttons.com a few months ago, and brought 20 sets of buttons back on my last trip. The buttons are really thick and quite impressive. (I had a lot of fun over three nights with my young boys sorting all 20 sets for color/pattern/etc. so they'd all match just right.) They claim to ship worldwide. They're nice guys and professional, too.

A note on Chinese tailors - they aren't used to working with the thick buttons, and they're just going to sew them on using whatever process they normally use. The placket on the first big-button shirts buckles under the buttons as the thread length is incorrect. The placket simply can't slide underneath the buttons. I could have it fixed, but it's a short-sleeve shirt (it's hot in Shenzhen!) and I can cut the buttons off and move them to a new shirt next spring.

Hope this is of some help for you and for posterity. Since moving here I've been on this forum a lot looking up 'best tailor Shenzhen' and 'bespoke shoes Hong Kong' and I really appreciate the little nuggets of wisdom that others have left over time.
 

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