Hotwind (热风) has been around Shanghai, according to this source, since 1996, but we didn’t discover it until a few years after we got here. From our point of view there are two problems with shopping for clothes in Shanghai:
- It’s sometimes hard for men of the American fashion persuasion to find suitable clothes in Shanghai. While there’s a certain generic overlap in your average street/casual wear styles, it’s hard to find things that fit, especially in terms of pants if you are of above average height and you know, size.
- Shopping is shopping, that idle pastime of the bourgeoisie. Hipsters are allowed to enjoy shopping, but only in that sly, tongue-in-cheek way that makes it seem to others as if it’s anathema to them while surreptitiously increasing the very wardrobe that makes them hip. That said, no matter who you are, you probably dislike the waiting and jostling that comes with the territory.
Fall is in the air, but not in our closet, so we went out with the significant other to Hotwind (one of the many of this chain store) on Xiangyang Lu. Hotwind doesn’t have a lot in terms of diversity — the stores aren’t that big, and the rest seems dominated by a number of brands. What’s nice is that even in a small store they have a variety of things: Levi’s jeans, Doc Marten boots, Paul Frank boxers, Ben Sherman warm-up/gym jackets, Abercrombie and Fitch long sleeve shirts, etc. We’re not going to vouch for the “realness” of these products, but just based on the intuition that anyone living here long enough has, it seems pretty legit to us — factory surplus type stuff. The prices are fairly reasonable — many of the clothes are in the 100-300 RMB range.
The problem is that because of that, you don’t get a lot of sizes. Any item on display is likely to only come in two or three sizes. The situation with shoes is slightly better, but there is one significant difference: All of their shoes come with a lifetime warranty. If there are any quality problems in the first three months, they replace the shoe completely. After that, and until death do you part, they will repair the shoes free, even if it’s normal wear and tear damage.
Although they are for the most part “urban,” Hotwind also has boots and travel gear for backpackers, including backpacks (the big ones), hiking boots, designer water bottles, etc.
While sizing was still an issue for us, the service made the relentless searching more bearable. They called the other stores to look for the right size of something we liked, and when they found it they took down our names and phone numbers and promised to call us (probably the next day) when it came in.
We suggest you go later in the evening, preferably on a weekday night, and you can avoid the crowds as well. But we save the best for last: In the Xiangyang store (and not, to our knowledge, in the others) there is a resting area in the middle with nice couches where you can drink coffee. They have an espresso machine in there, and a nice, fresh cup of joe costs you just 8 RMB — and you get free refills. So while the significant other was shopping, we sat down, tried reading a 19th century Norwegian novel, but instead watched the March of the Penguins documentary. Penguins, coffee, and henleys — about as good a combination as you can hope for on a random shopping trip.
For the addresses of most (if not all) of the Hotwind stores in Shanghai, go here (in Chinese).
Photo from dunkels’ Flickr page.