Wednesday, May 1, 2013

More fabric shopping in Manila

Many people in the Philippines have their clothes made by the local sewing lady/gentleman, so there are still many fabric stores located all around the city. Most malls have at least one or two stores carrying a wide range of fabrics, from chiffons for evening wear to (man-made) wool for men’s suits. So whether you sew yourself, or plan to have your clothes made, there is plenty of choice. That said, you will find higher end fabrics such as pure silk, wool, cashmere etc. harder to find.

Unfortunately, the staff in most fabric stores are not very well trained, so will really have no idea what they are selling. Fabric content is rarely marked on the rolls. For instance, if you are looking for silk, the staff may show you a lot of fabric which may look like silk but is actually polyester or some other man-made fabric. So be slightly skeptical about what you are buying: if it doesn’t feel like silk, it probably isn’t. It doesn’t help to argue with the staff about it, as they generally won’t have a clue what you are talking about! Some stores have abysmal customer service anyway and too few staff for the busy hours. Carolina’s and Fabric Warehouse are probably the most guilty of this, so if I can’t find what I want elsewhere, I try and go early during the day, when they are not so busy. It also helps to actually talk to sales staff and ask (and remember!) their first name, so that next time you come, they will also actually remember you! Stores in malls are normally fixed price, but if you are buying alot of fabric and the owner is around, strike up a conversation with him or her, and you may get a few pesos off. In Divisoria, Taytay and Kamuning, you can try to haggle a bit as they sometimes raise their prices if they see someone they perceive to be rich (i.e. a "foreigner"!). But the discounts won't be that big unless you are really buying a substantial amount. 

These are the places I shop the most:

SM Megamall, Ortigas 
The basement on the Shangri-La side has 5 or 6  fabric stores in a row next to each other so it is one of the most convenient places to go for fabric! There is also a Carolinas (one of the only shops outside of Divisoria where you can get sewing notions such as lace, ribbons, buttons, zips, threads etc as well as mainly evening wear fabric) on the second floor. You can also get some sewing notions in the SM department store next to the lingerie department.

Shangri-La Plaza, Ortigas
2 quite nice fabric stores: Bloomingdales and Expressions. They both also have branches in other malls and seem to be part of the same "family" as you sometimes find the same fabrics in both stores. Bloomingdales is the only store in town (that I know off) which sells special knitted wicking fabric for rash guards and sportswear, as well as waterproof/repellant raincoat fabric.

Market Market, Taguig /Fort
Cotton Touch, (a sister company of Cotton Depot) which sell the biggest selection of printed cottons in town: a huge range of florals, but also a lot of fabrics suitable for children's wear including car prints etc for boys and good for quilts as well). A small Carolina's and a couple of smaller fabric stalls including one which sells some pure silks.Metro Department Store also has a very nice fabric department on the top floor and a good selection of sewing notions.  

Glorietta, Makati
Quite a few fabric stores, including a big Carolina's, a huge Fabric Warehouse and a big Cotton Depot (Parttimehomemaker posted some photos here). They used to all be on the top floor of Glorietta 5 but now many have moved to the new Glorietta building, so I'm not 100% sure where they all are yet. The Cotton Depot seems to have stayed on the top floor of Glorietta 5. 

Greenbelt 1, Makati
Fanbi is the only fabric store in this mall but well worth a visit! They have some really nice fabrics as well as a good selection of men's shirts and suit/pants fabrics. There prices are higher than some of the other stores, but some of their more uncommon fabrics are also worth it.

Carolina's in Dian Street, Makati
This store is not air-conditioned but is less full than the other Carolina's stores, so I always drop by if I am in the neighborhood. There is parking right in front of the store which is also good to know!

Greenhills, San Juan
There is a Fabric Warehouse here as well as Designer Prints which although a bit more expensive than other stores, has a really good selection and is well worth a visit.

Fabric Warehouse Libis / along E. Rodriguez opposite Eastwood
Fabric Warehouse has quite a few stores all over Metro Manila, but it can be incredibly hard, if not impossible to find anything, just because the stores are too full. The name "warehouse" actually sells it all! The biggest Fabric Warehouse is along E.Rodriguez in Libis (although the new one in Glorietta is also large) but parking can be difficult as the few lots in front get filled up quickly. They do have a huge selection of all sorts of fabrics and as they have more space than their stores in Megamall or Greenhills, it's a little easier to find what you are looking for. Haute Fashionista posted a photo of the store here.

Mall of Asia, Pasay
The only fabric store I know of here, is a small Cotton Depot selling mainly cotton fabrics. It's above the Nido Science Museum.

Where do I start? Divisoria merits a post all to its self! Tutuban Mall has fabric stores if you want to shop in air-conditioning! Otherwise there are hundreds of small stalls in Divine Market, the building between Ilaya and Tabora ( enter behind the stalls which line the streets). You'll also find a lot of fabric sold on Ilaya street (literally on the street as the rolls are all just piled up on the ground!) along Ilaya. These stalls often sell misprinted fabric as well as dirty (no wonder!!) fabric so check when they measure and maybe buy a little extra. The fabric is so cheap here, that it won't hurt much to buy a few yards more. There is another building on the north side of CM Recto with a lot of fabric stalls too, including some which sell cut lengths of washed denim. 

I've never actually been here, but I am told its a good place to shop for fabric. There are even tailors here where you can have men's suits made. Bespoke Man documents his experience on his blog. My lawyer also told me she has her business suits made in Kamuning, so I think I need to take a trip there too some time.

Update: In the mean time I have been here. There is not a huge fabric section and I did not really find anything which would interest me. However I did see some interesting and reasonable curtain fabric, and it also seems to be a good source for men's shirtings as well as suitings although the fabric was not high end. There were a lot of tailors around, so its probably a reasonable place to have something sewn.

I am sure that I have missed other places with good fabric stores, and if you have any recommendations, or favorite fabric stores, please let me know in a comment. I always love to discover new places to shop!