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Time-honored Shanghai brands

IN the 1920s and 30s the city was a major manufacturing center producing around half of China's industrial output.

Although many of the old Shanghai brands couldn't compete with imported Western brands and went out of business, some survive and are still popular.

Huili sports shoes

Huili Shoe Co was established in 1927 in Shanghai, and registered its trade mark in 1935. It is the earliest Chinese brands for fashion rubber-soled shoes. Huili shoes were the only symbol of sports walking shoes in the 1970s and fashionable among teenagers in 1980s, costing 36 yuan (US$5.30) a pair.

Wearing a pair of Huili shoes was once said to be as risking as wearing a military cap during the "cultural revolution" (1966-76) - it was likely to get swiped since it was so popular. A well-shod boy who left his home in high spirits might return barefoot and in tears.

As many sports shoes flooded the market since the late 1980s, Huili, though famous still, is no longer a status symbol, more associated with migrant workers as they are cheap and durable.

In the European and American markets, however, Huili gained popularity since 2008.

They cost around 50 euros (US$64.40), about 25 times the price in China. Quite a few Hollywood stars, such as Orlando Bloom, can be seen wearing Huilis.

Bee and Flower sandalwood soap

The soap was first produced in 1928 but not patented until 1979.

It was first manufactured by the Central Scent Soap Factory and since 1960 by the Shanghai Soap Co since the two were merged.

The sandalwood soap was made of exclusive recipe given a complex Oriental scent that included sandalwood, jasmine and orange.

It was famous for its special hand-packaging with seven materials and nine procedures. Today the soap retains the packaging.

It was a daily care product in the 1930s but most is exported today and few people use it, though it does evoke nostalgia.

It is sold in 40 countries in Southeast Asia, Europe and America.

Baiqueling (Pehchaolin) cream

Using a recipe from Germany, Shanghai Fubeikang Co launched its first skin care product in 1931.

The small metal box with a strong scent used to be one of the most widely used creams in Shanghai before the 1980s.

Though far less popular than it was, Baiqueling is still available in the local market. In addition to its traditional cream, the company produces anti-itch cream, glycerin and 24-hour hydrating lotion.

Some middle-aged people prefer it because it brings back memories.

Zhengguanghe (Aquarius) mineral water

The brand was founded in 1864 by British missionary George Smith. Since the early 1900s, Shanghai Aquarius' orange juice, mineral water and other soft drinks dominated the domestic market for half a century.


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