Indie designer goes to Hong Kong 2

[Kathleen here, posting for Miracle. The photos she sent are interspersed throughout the text sans descriptions which I decided to do rather than sticking them all in at the end. You can see them full size in her web album.]

So…As I got closer to my travel to Hong Kong, I decided to get organized. I went through my package of headers and mark down the locations of all the places so that I could have a travel plan. I copied the MTR map for Sham Shui Po into Adobe Illustrator, google mapped the locations, and then kinda sorta put them on my map. I am such a geek. The best part about using the MTR map is that I realized that the Prince Edward station was closest to most of the places I wanted to go.


The cool thing about Hong Kong’s MTR system is that the exits have letters, and knowing your exit gets you much closer to your destination. For example, my hotel is at exit F of the Admiralty Station. Exit G of the Central Station gets you to the Landmark Shopping Center (where Harvey Nichols is). It’s also pretty close to Marks & Spencer. Exit D1 of Central gets you to Bua Hom Thai Massage on D’Aguila Street (which still took me thirty minutes of walking in circles to find, despite knowing the exit, but now I know it’s by Ben & Jerry’s and Haagen Dazs). Anyhow, Exit D of Prince Edward Station. It takes you to the cross of Yu Chau and Portland streets which is one tail end of the fabric district in Sham Shui Po.

I never used that map. Closer to my trip, I used google blog search to see if I can find anything about Sham Shui Po and I found Crabby Rangoon’s blog (Sorry, Erika, for referring to you as Crabby), which was about the closest I could get to having any kind of clue what Sham Shui Po is like.

I wasn’t expecting this. From my earlier post:

What I expected was an area with different fabric showrooms. At best, I thought there would be a couple dozen companies in this area, selling fabric. I expected to only find a few good leads as I expected most to cater to larger manufacturers.

Sham Shui Po is overwhelming. I could spend a week here, easily. There are streets after streets of fabric places. I took a few photos. I thought of taking a lot of photos, only it would feel redundant (to me at least). There is no way to give you an idea of what the place is like, because I only show you a few places, and there are many, many more, spanning many, many blocks. What I like most about the area is that it’s for people like us. It’s for people who buy yardage by the tens or maybe a couple hundred, not by the thousands. The shops cater to people like us, often cutting sample yardage right there (for those that have the fabrics on hand). For some of the others, you can just pay the sample yardage surcharge to use for your smaller production runs.

They have headers many allow you to freely take headers. Some have prices marked (in HKD), some have fiber content market, some do not have fiber content marked on the headers, but it will be posted on a sign in the store. It’s not incredibly complicated, though, because it’s mostly cotton, rayon, poly, nylon, etc. Not a whole lot of fancy schmancy. The area has “districts”, for example, I realized immediately once I was in the PU district because, well, the signs declared it so. You find that shops selling the same types of fabrics seem to be clustered together. They have fabrics from China, Korea, Japan, Australia, all over. And, you find designers, from all over the world, literally running from shop to shop matching up fabrics and trims.

My photos show my wheelie full of headers and I probably didn’t even visit one eight of the shops there.

The most amazing part about my headers is that while they look numerous, I only pulled headers for fabrics that I could or would use. In other words, I didn’t go overboard and grab everything. There were many fabrics that I just didn’t get headers for because I know my usage is far enough out that it’s likely I’ll be back before then. There is some redundancy in fabrics, you see a lot of poly prints and you start to recognize some, there are a lot of places carrying highly similar shirting fabrics, cottons and solid and striped knits. But even with that, there are just too many places to go. You get to an intersection and the streets splinter off, with even more shops. I emailed Erika (Crabby Rangoon) to ask her where the trims were because I was too exhausted to even try to find it. I barely, only fortunately, made it back to the MTR station because for a while, I was truly lost, but luckily I ended up back where I started, exit D. I should have pulled out my map, but I was tired, hot, sticky, sweaty, I think it rained on me and I was hungry. I wasn’t thinking clearly.

With Ericka’s help, I will go back to Sham Shui Po and try and find the trims. I already planned on purchasing another piece of luggage while here ;) I’ll probably write more about Sham Shui Po after I go back. I’ll probably take more photographs of the area.

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15 comments

  1. bethany says:

    So now I am totally obsessed with going to Hong Kong. My husband said no (I told him I wanted to go for two weeks, and we have two young boys)but I bet I can persuade him. I am having so much fun reading these entries and then researching them! Maybe I should go get a passport. So cool.

  2. Big Irv says:

    The word WOW is definitely appropriate, but the phrase ” kid in a candy store” works too. That might work for most seeing HK’s fabric district for the first time.

    It is quite unbelievable. Were you able to get on the Star ferry and dodge traffic in the harbour yet ?

  3. Karen C says:

    What really amazes me is how sparkling clean everything seems to me. Had no idea. And to see headers after headers after…well, you get the idea. Nirvana.

  4. Natasha says:

    If Hong Kong is half as fun as Singapore then I’m so there. I wonder if they have a marathon (only way to convince hubby to go)

  5. Jason says:

    I have never been to Hong Kong for fabrics, but I have been to Seoul. It is amazing! There is a huge building with rows and rows of fabrics. Everything you need is there. There was even a guy making made to order zippers while you wait! Most people there don’t speak English, but I managed to communicate what I wanted. Go to Korea for fabric! And the tea is good too!

  6. Big Irv says:

    Pam,

    I’ll jump in answer your question about the language. Hong Kong was governed by the British until July 1,1997 , when it’s 99 year lease ran out, and China assumed control. It is now classified as a Special Administration Region .

    Public schools are taught in both English and Cantonese/Mandarin.

    Many citizens and certainly most business people can speak English and it is a employment prerequisite in many cases.

    If a fabric vendor doesn’t speak English, someone is quickly located who can.

  7. Jessika says:

    We should plan a group field trip here! We’ll take Miracle along and help each other navigate all the wonderful shops! :) Imagine what an army of DEs could accomplish!

    Honestly, I never realized that they would cater to those of us that don’t use enormous quantities. Now I want to go…

  8. Beely says:

    Hi!
    I was just googling Sham Shui Po and I came upon your website! I am in HK right now and want to buy fabrics/buttons/lace ETC to take back home and go into hibernation mode with my sewing machine!

    Do you have any tips for me while I am fabric shopping? Do people bargain in that area? Also, what are the prices like?

    It sounds like you had a blast – i loved reading your entry! My heart literally started beating faster and faster as I was reading about the fabulous fabric shops, and I found myselt staring about 10 cm away from the monitor by the end of it!

    -Beely :)

  9. Chi Hang says:

    haraya :)
    haha ive also went to check ‘sham shui po fabric’ and here i am!!
    im a hong konger and never knew much about where in places in hong kong sell fabrics, but a huge thanks to you! hehe :)
    im working on a patchwork pencase for my textile technology assessment task (im in grade 9, and we have a assessment task on patchwork pencase. hehe :D) i had a hard time finding fabrics, the only place im most certain about selling fabrics is located in megabox (spotlight)..but woahh..its expensive and they most likely to be sold in big quantity and my pencase is only like shorter than 20cm.
    i have some questions, hope you don’t mind replying me:
    do they sell pcv materials/fabrics over there?
    other than fabrics, do they sell other textiles products and materials? like zipper, polyester stuffing, buttons, ribbons, felt fabrics…etc?
    hehe sorry :(
    thankyou for taking your time reading my reply, hope to hear from you asap! :D
    CH”i Hang

  10. L says:

    Coolll!! This information is very helpful to me..yes and I have been to Sam Shui Po. You can bargain. But not much unless you purchase in bulk – they will have trade discount ..anyhow, still it’s worth it!! Please keep me posted if you have anymore good information where we could get trims and fabrics.
    Hugs!!

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