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Going retro in metro Shanghai

AUDREY Hepburn-style skinny trousers are very "in" these days and you just might find them in a vintage shop in Shanghai. Ditto for Chanel suits and Italian handbags. Han Jing explores.

Meihua (Plum Blossom) sports suits, Feiyue (Leap) sneakers and Shanghai watches were once scorned by fashionistas as oh-so-dated, especially when imported luxury brands became available.

But vintage clothing, both Chinese and foreign, is catching on. It's anything but old hat.

We're not talking about typical used or worn clothes, but classic designs with modern, stylish touches. (Of course, they must be washed or dry cleaned.)

Audrey Hepburn's skinny trousers, floral-printed blouse by Italy's first ready-to-wear label Pucci and Chanel suits have survived down the years and are treasured. They don't cater to seasons or trends: They're never out of date.

Stylist Juju, 25, and photographer Qiqi, 24, offer a huge collection of arty vintage clothing sourced from second-hand markets and vintage shops around the world. They have shopped in Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Portugal, Spain, France and other countries.

The pair of art lovers graduated with art majors in Shanghai. They are currently furthering their studies at the school of creative media in City University of Hong Kong.

They decided to do something with their collection, instead of keeping it locked in wardrobes, so last month they launched their online store Mime Vintage (

It sells mostly vintage clothing from the 1970s and 1980s with impressive Oriental elements.

"vintage clothing means full of stories and history," says Juju. The pair also wears their own vintage creation.

"The clothes are silent as a mime and express themselves through the wearer and the motion that we give them," says Juju, explaining the shop's name. "Mime, either an art form, a performance or an action, is imagery, body motion, fun, Dada, sublime in the way exploring nonsense is a creative form.

"I am crazy about 1950s retro style and futurism, 1980s fluorescence disco trend and Chinese traditional opera costumes," says Juju, once a stylist for Shanghai Fashion Week.

Qiqi is a faithful follower of unique patterns and retro style.

"In an age packed with various styles or without any style in another sense, people anticipate the return of warmth and novelty when indulging themselves in a nostalgia and resisting harsh reality," she says.

In Anxi Second-hand Clothes Market on Kaixuan Road in Changning District, you can easily pick up a retro-style outfit. The market is a favorite with middle-aged residents looking for extremely cheap garments for just dozens of yuan - and they can bargain.

Trendy young people go hunting there for quirky vintage togs and fashion design majors also look for cool items.

The place has everything - scintillating collectibles and lots of boring duds. You have to be willing to paw through a lot and know the difference.

You can find floral print dresses, polka-dot knee-length skirts, geometric-patterned cardigans, striped tweed suits and much more.

Inveterate vintage collector Ye Ye frequents the markets for treasures. The 26-year-old Shanghai native collects cast-offs from her mother and grandma or old-fashioned clothes discarded by residents when they relocate. Then she makes stylish alterations herself.

Some of those old qipao with stunning patterns may not be wearable anymore, but they can be turned into cushions or handbags, says Ye who delights in turning old togs into gold.

"The ultimate glamor of vintage clothing lies in its unduplicated fabrics, patterns or hues with the imprint of age," says Ye, adding that some fine craftsmanship and manufacturing techniques are no longer used.

"Wearing unique vintage clothes really boosts self-confidence and self-awareness," says Ye. "There's a story behind each piece."

"It's a rare pleasure to meet someone who can truly appreciate my vintage elements," she says, adding that her parents failed to see what she saw in an old-style handbag decorated with Shanghai elements.

Buying vintage is about attitude, image and culture and it helps recycle.

Dressing vintage

1. Use restraint. Don't go vintage from head to toe - it looks silly. Blend vintage with contemporary fashion. Vintage accessories are always safe.

3. Floral prints and jumpsuits are typical vintage style.

4. Shoes are important to the look, but they don't have to be vintage.

5. Red or rose lipstick, no gloss, is recommended to wear with vintage dresses. (Guys can choose whatever lipstick they like.)

idest.Zhai Fashion Studio

More than 2,000 vintage pieces in stock. Offers professional custom tailoring on site.

Address: Room 101, 1365 Fuxing Rd M., near Baoqing Rd

Tel: 6437-3631


Anxi Second-hand Clothes Market

A branch on each side of Kaixuan Road. The older one has a larger stock than the new market launched two years ago. Tailoring in the older market.

Address: 1355 Kaixuan Rd, near Anshun Rd

Tel: 6283-5496

CRW Studio

Subsidiary of local trendy information Website ( Seventy percent are retro-style fashion items.

Address: 266 Julu Rd

Tel: 6271-1889


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