Monday, 3 June 2013

Clothes Shopping in Wufenpu Wholesale Market, Songshan

Clothes shopping is something of a national sport in Taiwan, and Taipei has something for everyone if you know where to look. Very expensive, high-end designer fashion brands are available in Taipei 101 and the nearby elite stamping grounds; long lasting, high quality travelwear shops line the street from Da'an Station to Jianguo Road; cheaper chain stores such as Uniqlo and Zara form the bulk of establishments around the Zhongxiao stations along Zhongxiao East Road; under Taipei Main Station there are miles of malls; and small, independent boutiques are everywhere. Styles range across ages and cultures - even my personal aging hippy penchant for Indian-style, music festival devotee clothes is catered for.

All this is clear from a brief exploration of Taipei's commercial districts, yet I had a niggling feeling that I hadn't plumbed the depths of clothes shopping in Taipei. A complete picture had to include somewhere very practical, busy, cheap and diverse, and just recently I was introduced to it.

Wufenpu wholesale market is where those in the know go to buy their clothes. Manufacturers sell their latest designs in bulk and cheaply to independent shop owners, and at slightly higher prices to individual shoppers. Located on Songlong Road near Songshan Mainline Train Station, it's a warren of small shops that begins to sleepily open its shutters around 1 o'clock in the afternoon.

I'm not an enthusiastic clothes shopper, as I've stated before, but I did have lots of fun exploring this market and came away very happy with my prized purchases. Cheap and cheerful outfits for remarkably thin teenagers, and for wider, but still economically challenged, older ladies are available alongside pricier, sleeker designs. Korean styles, 'doll' fashion (as my friend called it, which is something like Laura Ashley but sexier), nightclubbing and - my personal favourite - slobbing-around-the-house clothes, and other kinds fill the many shops. There's little organisation - you just have to go and search for whatever you want, but you're almost certain to find it here.

Some items aren't for sale, though.
I liked the bags at this shop so much I bought two at once, a first for me.
If the size or colour you want exists, they'll have it at the factory shop.

My friend and I visited as the market was opening on a weekday afternoon, so we were spared the usual peak period crush that's normal later in the day and at weekends.

Wufenpu Market is a great place but it should carry a shopaholic health warning. It's far too tempting, even for the clothes shopping novice.

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