Sham Shui Po
When I first arrived in Hong Kong I didn’t know where to go for anything textile related. I was used to having fabric stores close to where I lived and could easily and often pop in for any textile related supplies.
Over the past 3 years I have slowly explored the textile area known as Sham Shui Po here in Hong Kong, and uncovered an amazing array of stores and suppliers that sell a huge variety of products. I now buy all of the fabrics and haberdashery that I use for my classes and pattern designs from here.
“The discovery in 1955 of the Lei Cheng Uk Han Tomb indicates that as early as 2000 years ago there were Chinese people settled in what is now Sham Shui Po. Sham Shui Po means “Deep Water Pier” in Cantonese and the water here was deeper than the beach of Cheung Sha Wan to the northwest. It is close to the former peninsula of Tai Kok Tsui, the low ridge of which ends in Sham Shui Po.”
“Under Japanese occupation, a concentration camp was maintained here for most of the duration of the Second World War. An account of life by a British POW has been published as The Hard Way: Surviving Shamshuipo POW Camp 1941-45 by Victor Stanley Ebbage” (Spellmount, 2011), (Wikipedia).
Sham Shui Po or SSP as I now affectionately call it is always a hive of activity, decaying yet full of urban renewal, fascinating and really the heart of old Hong Kong. It is an area full of energy with young designers setting up shop alongside retailers who have been there for generations. There is much on offer here, including electronics at the Apliu Street market, fresh food markets and fashion wholesalers. My interest of course has been the textile products on offer.
Here is my guide to Sham Shui Po. It’s a good idea to take a map to orient yourself as it is easy to get lost here. And it is a far more pleasant place to wander around in the cooler months!
If you are driving, there is parking at the nine storey shopping mall Dragon Centre which is at 37 K Yen Chow Street. There is also metered parking around Sham Shui Po, but you need to get there early and you have to be lucky to find a spot and the one way streets don’t make it easy.
On the MTR Get off at Sham Shui Po and head for Exit A2 which will take you out to Apliu Street.
Yu Chau Street is one street over from Apliu Street, and is one of my favourite streets in Sham Shui Po. Shun Cheong Li Full at 206 Yu Chau Street is a colourful store full of trims, ribbons, beads, feathers, pom pom trims, and general bling.
Flying Dragon at 213 -217 Yu Chau Street is a treasure trove of ribbons.
There are also many stores selling colourful beads and jewellery supplies along here. If you like all things sparkly, you’re sure to find some dazzling bling here.
Wah Kiu Plastic Bags – 222 Yu Chau Street, Sham Shui Po. This shop has all manner of stationary. Big bags, little bags, cardboard and plastic bags, you name it they have it. They also have sticky tape, card labels and lots of different packaging materials.
If you are after labels Mei Shing Company is situated at 164D Yu Chau Street (on the left after you cross Nam Cheong) This tiny shop sell size and care labels, and also ‘Made in England’ or ‘Made in Italy’ labels, I kid you not.
Further down Yu Chau Street and in the surrounding area (after crossing Nam Cheong Street) are fabric wholesalers by the hundred. They represent mills in China and are usually happy to take orders of 3 – 5 yards (sampling length). The fabric will be shipped to Hong Kong from the mainland in 1 to 3 days. I have bought fabric from many of these shops and the owners are in general friendly and helpful. I have only encountered a few who refuse to sell sampling lengths. The shops have hundreds of sample swatches in their stores that you are welcome to take with you for future reference.
Ki Lung Street market stalls (between Wong Chuk St and Shek Kip Mei St) are packed with small fabric stalls that sell fabric by the yard. I mostly buy colourful cotton prints here for my classes at HKD $20 a yard, they are very good value. If you turn right at the end of this block into Wong Chuk Street there is a great little hole in the wall shop that sells only denim, in every weight and many colours.
For metal buckles and lingerie hardware try Capital Glory Industries Ltd. 203 Ki Lung Street.
Many of the shops close between 1 – 2 pm for lunch and will put a chain across the store entrance, so take the time to have a break at Cafe Sausalito at 201 Tai Nan St. A great place to have a coffee and a bite to eat this air conditioned western style cafe has fab coffee, great carrot cake and a clean loo!
Haberdashery – Nam Cheong Street is full of haberdashery shops. One of my favourites is Wing Fat Hong Garment Accessories Co. Ltd. 136 Nam Cheong Street. This little gem of a store sells needles, pins, scissors, labels, threads, pattern making rulers.
Practical International Trading Co. at 120 Nam Cheong Street have fancy trims and laces, feathers and jewellery. Wish I’d known about this place when I was making wedding gowns.
Hing Mee Zip Fastener 86 Nam Cheong Street. This store sells zips in every colour size and length you can think of. They sell YKK ZIPS, and don’t seem to mind if you buy 1 or 100.
Flying Dragon ribbon store has a second store along here at 98 Nam Cheong Street.
On the other side of the wide Nam Cheong Street (the side closer to the MTR) wander up Ki Lung Street, between Nam Cheong and Pei Ho Street.
C&S Industrial Company – this very narrow store sells all sorts of sewing threads and DMC embroidery thread. Shop 6, GF, Yau Nam Mansion, 97 Nam Cheong Street. (although it is set a few stores back from Nam Cheong St)
Kwong Yiu Fashion Accessories Co. sell a lovely assortment of millinery supplies, as does the shop next door. The address is also 97 Nam Cheong Street ( it is really in Ki Lung Street).
Further up is Hong Kong Johnson Lace Co. Ltd. are at 230 Ki Lung Street, a great lace shop that sell lots of colourful narrow and all over laces.
There is an interesting assortment of shops and market type stores selling all sorts haberdashery along here.
Tung Shing Sewing Machine Co. Ltd at 65 -61 Lai Chi Kok Road (on the cnr of Nam Cheong Street) sells mainly brother sewing machines but also lots of haberdashery, thread, rulers and scissors.
Mannequins – This block around Cheung Sha Wan road / Maple Street and Poplar Street all sell similar shop fitting products. I have purchased several mannequins from here both children’s and women’s size. I haven’t seen adjustable dressmaking models, but I took my tape measure and got the sizes I needed. They also re-cover and make to measure any size you want. I also found some really nice timber hangers for my racks. The shop I have purchased from is Tak Shing Model Clothes Rack Co. 46 Cheung Sha Wan Road, Sham Shui Po.
Yen Chow Street Hawker Bazaar – Opposite the Police Station on Yen Chow Street.
This ‘bizarre’ lean to of a market is a bit like a dark cave and I really wonder how old some of the materials are. I have heard that they are closing it down to build apartments soon.
Photography equipment – I recently decided I needed some photography equipment, where else to go but SPP. I bought an adjustable backdrop stand, a huge backdrop, seriously bright lights and soft boxes with adjustable height light stands. The staff were helpful, even taking me to another store to find the right backdrop. I bought all my gear from Heng Li Electronic Co. 155 Apliu Street.
I love my visits to Sham Shui Po. It is the old Hong Kong, a working class area that is neither pretty nor pretentious. The shop owners are friendly and helpful, or they will be when they are finished playing their card games! And they love having their cats close by – my type of place!
This is such a great article! I’ll be in Hong Kong in June and i’ll be sure to check out some of the shops you’ve mentioned as i design and make lingerie.
Perhaps if you have any other good suggestions for lace trims and picot elastic for lingerie too that would be great!