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[The Big List]: Cool Shanghai Souvenirs to Remember the Good Times

20 ideas or so to take a little piece of the city with you...
2022-06-16 20:00:00

Hey, y'all. Seems like we're in a summer of upheaval, change, and transition, doesn't it? We're picking up on those vibes. Lots of people moving on. Lots of new journeys being undertaken. Lots of cosmic ballet.

Are you, dear reader, perhaps transitioning on to somewhere else outside of Shanghai in the near future and maybe looking back on the memories you've made here? Perhaps thinking that you might miss it? The good bits anyway?

Here's a bunch of Shanghai keepsakes, mementos, and gift-type ideas to remember the good times. With this list we're sidestepping the obvious ones (fake Prada bags, Kedi Mart baijiu, White Rabbit candy) and trying to highlight neat, locally produced crafts, and also random "Shanghai" kinda stuff.


NEOBIAO is a pretty cool watch and timepiece company that specializes in restoring vintage Chinese brand mechanical watches from the '50s to the '90s. All the watches are hand-restored, unique, and boast personalities so strong and classy they can make up for a total lack of one, if that's your situation.

"Interesting story about this watch... got it when I used to live in Shanghai..."

Where to buy: NEOBIAO

Price: In the 1.100 rmb range.

Caidao, the Chinese Vegetable Cleaver

There's never a time in your life when you're not gonna need a big damn cleaver to cut through all the bullshit, as well as whatever lovely vegetable medly dish you happen to be making in your sick new apartment in Prague or London or Tulsa or wherever. Look for "Caidao", which translates (loosely) to "awesome cleaver."

Where to buy: Most local supermarkets, Lianhua in particular.

Price: 80-120rmb.

Warrior Shanghai Sneakers

Feiyue are pretty sweet and all but we're also digging the Warrior sneakers, a brand of athletic shoe founded in Shanghai in 1927, that gained national prominence from the '60s to the '80s. The metaphorical connotations of "Warrior" alone will help you spiritually as you embrace the next phase of your life.

You need that rad sneaker warrior energy.

Where to buy: Warrior 1927

Price: From 80rmb.

Chinese Silk Kites

Very touristy, yes, but you have to admit: Chinese silk kites are indeed pretty marvelous. Coming in all shapes and sizes, they make for great wall decoration, even if your kite flying skills ain't so great. You can find them anywhere but the Yu Garden is your safe bet and a place you might want to check out anyways for more straight-up souvenir type stuff.

Where to buy: Yu Garden

Price: From 60rmb.

Shanghai City Bag

A handy tote bag to carry all your Shanghai and everywhere else stuff, hopes, and dreams. This original design features classic local flavors and signifiers. Very spiffy.

Where to buy: SMASH Shop

Price: 120rmb.

Shanghai Architecture Books

Writer Tess Johnston (we featured her here) and Shanghai photographer Deke Erh know a thing or two about Shanghai. They've published over 20 books on the subject, including lots and lots about this city's unique architecture. These are ideal for keeping on your coffee table, flipping through, and going, "Oh! I've been there! Siggggghhh."

Where to buy: Garden Books

Price: Around 150rmb.

Suzhou Cobblers Silk Shoes

The shop name-check Suzhou in their moniker but it's from Shanghai-born designer Denise Huang, so... this qualifies. Suzhou Cobblers does bright and vibrant silk designs on slippers, shoes, handbags, hats, and clothing. The specialty item is the chic and flashy all-silk, 100% hand-sewn slippers, which evoke a very Shanghainese sort of affection for jubilance, fabulousness, and fashion.

Where to buy: Suzhou-cobblers (Online only)

Price: Up around 1,600rmb for a pair.

Lost In Shanghai T-Shirt

Shanghai's a home to all manner of real and mythical beasts and creatures, large and small. Easy to come and hard to go.

Commemorate that time you got lost in Shanghai, on your way to riches, precious gems, expensive cars, love, and all other other good things in the world.

Where to buy : SMASH Shop

Price: 120rmb.

Spin Ceramics

Spin is a Shanghai chic little shop selling contemporary ceramics of their own design and crafting. The aesthetic is often Japanese -- fitting, as Spin was spun off of the Shintori restaurant group. The modern designs, made in China's ancient ceramics capital, Jingdezhen, make great gifts.

To oneself.

Where to buy: Spin Ceramics (Hutai Zhi Lu)

Price: Around 100rmb.

'My Shanghai' Cookbook

Named one of the best cookbooks of 2021 by the New York Times, Glamour, and the National Post, My Shanghai is part cookbook, part travelogue, and part cultural study. Organized by season, this cookbook takes you through a year in the Shanghai culinary calendar, with more than 100 recipes, big gorgeous photos, and stories.

Where to buy: Garden Books

Price: Around 150rmb.

PLUSMINUS Original Prints

PLUSMINUS is an indie publishing and design agency based in Shanghai, comprised of Luna, a Chinese artist and illustrator and Maurice, a German creative designer. In addition to their annual zine showcasing emerging illustration talent from all over the PRC -- itself a great buy -- they also have lots of wicked prints featured Shanghai city lift filtered through their unique aesthetics and viewpoints. We wrote about them here.

Lots of smashed baijiu bottles. Art imitates life.

Where to buy: (WeChat) PLUSMINUS UNION

Price: In the 1,200rmb range for limited run prints.

Salt and Pepper Shakers by Pinyin Press

Could probably populate a few lists with Pinyin Press products, fine purveyors, as they are, of interesting and prosaic home accessories, lifestyle products, and gifts inspired by everyday life in China. One of our favorites is the baozi salt and pepper shakers. Too cute!

Where to buy: PINYIN PRESS

Price: Around 100rmb.

'Hanging Out' Smash Shanghai T-Shirt

Cool and casual original t-shirt design. Ideal for people who like to... hang out.

In Shanghai or not. It works wherever.

Where to buy: SMASH Shop

Price: 160 rmb.

Shanghai Tang Zodiac Chopsticks

Fancy! Unique utensils for dinner parties from snazzy boutique Shanghai Tang. Chopsticks from this collection are topped with brass statuettes of one of the Chinese zodiac animals. Pretty neat.

Where to buy: Shanghai Tang (Xintiandi)

Price: 780 rmb.

China Flower Girl Key Chain

Just a great synergy of local culture and corporate brand identity, this one right here. Dig that lego grip.

Where to buy: Lego Flagship Store

Price: 18 rmb.

Custom Street Signage

Home is where the green sign with the white numbers and lettering is. This shop prints customized street signs. You just give them your address and they'll make one for you. Pretty neat idea.

Probably a wiser course of action than just ripping yours off the wall of your alleyway.

Where to buy: SMASH Shop

Price: 128rmb

Michael Cignarale's "Operatic Orgasm" LP

A profound musical encapsulation of authentic Shanghai-style clubbing hedonism and euphoria. "Operatic Orgasm" is a record from Medusa glitterbomb Michael Cignarale. Expect nipply disco that works best at all and every party around the world.

Where to buy: Available through Elevator's WeChat account (Elevator上海)

Price: 200rmb.

French Dragon Pinyin Cups

China's classic iconic blue and white ceramic cups, decorated with the grand sum fruits of your Chinese lessons? Perhaps?

You'll get 'em next time.

Jiayou to these playful little tea mugs, from Laure-Anne Germond of French Dragon.

Where to buy: Search "FrenchDragon" on WeChat for the online shop.

Price: 260rmb for a set of 8.

Peddler's Gin

"Distilled with Eastern botanicals from all over China – Sichuan pepper, Yunnan Buddha's hand and cassia..." -- blah, blah, blah.

It's booze! Gin, even!

Made in Shanghai!

You're gonna need this wherever you end up.

Where to buy: or search "peddlersgin" on WeChat.

Price: Around 300rmb.

Jonas Emil Coffee

You'll need this for the morning after. Shanghai coffee from Jonas Emil. Did you know Shanghai has the most coffee shops in the entire world?

You can tell that to people at a party in like, Toronto and watch their eyes glaze over with indiffference.

(But get the "Shanghai Silhouette" blend. It's a good one. And sounds sexy.)

Where to buy: Search "JonasEmilCoffee" on WeChat.

Total: Couple hundred rmb for packages.

Shanghai Love Craft Beer

Local craft brewers have taken your love for this city and put it in a bottle. It's Shanghai Love beer. Founded by American export Kia Parsai in 2016, the range of brews includes the usual suspects -- ales and such -- including an IPA you can parse the relative hoppy-ness of, as one does. Read more about their story on SmartShanghai here.

Where to buy: Search "ShanghaiLoveBrew" on WeChat.

Price: 18rmb and up.


This local independent jewler "infuses her jewlery with meaning by using "gifts from the earth" such as seashells, gemstones, and precious metals", which is... I gotta say, really lovely sounding.

Hand-made pieces in limited lines from this much adored Shanghai boutique. Of particular note: The very nice dangly earrings.

Where to buy: Search "OkraJewlery" on WeChat. Shop is by appointment only.

Price: A couple hundred RMB and up.

Inferno T-Shirt

No introduction necessary, I should think?

It's Shanghai's beloved metal bar.

Live it, love it, wear it.

Anywhere in the world where fine heavy metal music is appreciated...

Where to buy: Search "Inferno666" on WeChat. Scroll down on any post for the store.

Price: 160rmb to 200rmb.