Taobao has come a long way from its reputation as just another site of designer dupes.
Ask any shopper in the know and they’ll tell you that the site is a veritable trove of independent designers who are looking to offer shoppers their own collections of designs ranging from the cool to the quirky. The choices are endless, and while this could sound enticing for the more experienced Taobao users amongst us, this can also seem a little bit overwhelmingly intimidating if you don’t have a guide into the world of Taobao fashion.
So what’s the best way into getting the sartorial most out of the site? Know your style, and zoom in on the places that cater to you.
Fortunately, unlike other e-commerce marketplaces where sellers sell everything from classic tweeds to acid-washed torn jeans, there are a good number of Taobao sellers who hone in on one singular style and expand their offerings on that. This gives you plenty of options to select from within one single store, thereby making your browsing experience a lot simpler and more enjoyable.
Here are some of our fave stores from Taobao right now, who are doing fabulous options for work and for play.
The aesthetic: Think feminine, ‘French Girl’ looks like Rouje, Maje, and Loulou Studio
If you’re in the market for a new fuzzy cardigan for your sub-zero offices or a printed slip dress to wear underneath your blazer, you’re in luck when you stop by Dimple Hsu’s shop. Not only is it a chockful of the aforementioned, they’ve got plenty of cute separates that can be worn on the weekends too – pastel-coloured twinsets, anyone?
The aesthetic: Leans towards the more eclectic and playful, and is almost Moschino-ish.
For all of its extensiveness, most Taobao fashion shops tend to steer away from anything too eye-catching, but Alu taps on that as its differing factor. On Alu, you’ll find things like acid-colored tweed suits, pastel bombers, sequinned outerwear and ’70s-inspired graphic sweaters with a dash of irony. Not a store for those who want to blend in, that’s for sure.
The aesthetic: A mix of girlishness with cool separates à la Miu Miu.
Sparkling sequinned jeans and a mint-coloured jacket? Yes and yes. VCRUAN’s listings offer lots to ooh at, including floral embroidered knit tanks, prairie-inspired dresses and swingy pleated skirts.
The aesthetic: Elevated basics that could have you confused for The Row or Nanushka.
Mali Studios is one of those rare finds where everything just works. The offerings you can expect include knitted dress-over-pants combos, oversized boyfriend blazers and sleek dresses that marry form and function into one attractively minimalist look.
The aesthetic: Come here if you love brands with a strong focus silhouette – such as COS or Marni.
On the surface, MADEINAM may look like another iteration of the previously-mentioned Mali Studios, except that when you click further into MADEINAM’s site, you’ll find that the standout here is the attention to shape and silhouette. It’s more sculptural, and those who appreciate a strong cut will love this.
The aesthetic: Geek chic girls who love A.P.C or Agnes B will love this.
It doesn’t immediately scream ‘work wear’ like the rest of the brands here, but Cloud Space offers plenty of geek-chic items that could still work in a more relaxed office setting. Think argyle-checked sweatshirts, dark wash carrot-shaped jeans and slouchy wool trousers.
The aesthetic: Effortless, everyday pieces that you might mistake for Isabel Marant or Zadig & Voltaire.
With a penchant for classic pieces, Jupe Vendue is quickly becoming our go-to stop for workwear basics. Here, you’ll find everything from louche striped shirts and classic blue jeans to frilly chiffon dresses and roomy cardigans. Their lookbook styling are also a great source of inspo for when you’re in a bit of a corporate wear rut.
The aesthetic: Streetwear meets grunge, like Ambush or Givenchy.
Streetwear for the workplace? FREEMEIGE has some cool options, like boxy cropped blazers, utilitarian jumpsuits and edgy shift dresses. Only attempt FREEMEIGE if your office has a lazed dress policy.
The aesthetic: Artsy, avant garde silhouettes that could pass for Acne Studios.
A deconstructed lace slip to be worn over baggy jeans? A pinstriped jacket paired with a crushed chiffon skirt? Cariedo has you covered with plenty of directional pieces to uncover.
The aesthetic: Korean streetwear, much like those you’d find in the alleys of Hongdae in Seoul.
The selection here is an amalgamation of pretty much every and anything you could think of. From varsity-themed knits and preppy mini skirts to pleated sundresses and casual co-ord sets, you’re bound to find one (or ten) things you love.
The aesthetic: Accessories to complete your looks.
The choices at Saz are pretty endless, and also range from edgy barbwire studs to pretty pendants decked in pink crystals. Most pieces here are also very wallet-friendly, allowing you to add more items to cart guilt-free.
The aesthetic: Vintage vibes that are a little more conservative
The store’s items go pretty heavy on vintage-looking items – ’50s style cardigans, ’70s style pussybow collars and the occasional riff on traditional costume – and they double-down when it comes to ladylike details. So if the idea of ruffles, sequins, or ribbons tickle your fancy, you’re bound to love this shop.
The aesthetic: Korean streetwear as well, but catered to a millennial crowd
If you’ve felt that Korean street can skew a little too young for your tastes, this store does a great job in putting together pieces that are catered to a more mature crowd. You’re unlikely to find as many Y2K pieces here as with most Korean street-inspired stores, as they favour chic jackets, flowy skirts and modest blouses here.
The aesthetic: A heavier focus on tailoring, much like Jil Sander or The Frankie Store
Think knife-pleated skirts, rugby-shouldered blazers and oversized button-down shirts for those off-duty moments. It’s a city girl’s dream wardrobe.
The aesthetic: Classic pieces that can’t go wrong
Amidst all the stores selling trend-led pieces, you also need somewhere that gives you a good heaping of classics. This store’s curation may seem boring at first glance, but their range of classics – from tees, pullovers, leggings and more – will find plenty of wear in your weekly rotation.
The aesthetic: Conservative, Korean-inspired style
The mix here will have more choices for those who prefer a longer sleeve or lower hemline, yet they find a way to balance a more conservative look without the frumpiness that is so commonly associated with the word. This is done through smart colour choices, interesting details such as unique buttons or embroidery, and tactile fabrics.