Recently I discovered another online source for cheongsams: Etsy. I was only vaguely aware of this website which sells some pretty interesting stuff, and didn’t realize it is like a high quality/high-end Qoo10, where you can set up an online store selling unique products. ( I have seen some really beautiful furniture and handcrafted merchandise available.) Anyway it turns out there are numerous cheongsams available. In fact The Happy Cheongsam and AnnularRing (one of the brands on Elegente site) offer their products there. Though, after checking out the selections available, I have to say they are a mixed bag, mostly blah rather than wow.
Many of the sellers hail from the west, with a number of them selling so-called vintage cheongsams, such as this.
I was a little surprised to find one US store offering made to order cheongsams, all of which are in the traditional cut (with back zip though). The cost ranges from about S $250 to less than S $400. The dresses look decent, nothing outstanding. I do not know about the workmanship so I can’t say if they are affordable. The fabrics (indicated as cotton and silk) look rather ordinary though.
There are the brocade fabric that many westerners associate the cheongsams with. Maybe it’s because of their limited exposure to only Chinatown, but whenever I see them in the brocade cheongsam, I’m always reminded of Chinese restaurant-waitress -lookalike.
Truth is, if you want an elegant look in a cheongsam, Chinatown should be the last place you go to. In fact I’m not even sure if you should even consider it.
Then there are the modern designs which tried to go sexy or boho. The former are in ultra-short dresses with side slits, and look more suitable for those working in the escort line.
So you can see, compared to the designs of those standalone online stores or Shanghai Tang, the cheongsams on Etsy are not inspirational.
As befitting of the vintage look, the dresses come with full circle skirt and open back, and a short 1″ collar for a more casual wear. Though I like the dress with the hidden side pockets and circle skirt, but I am not one for short collar.
If you like high collar like me, L&P is launching the classic cut (4.5cm high collar) in end October, and the Princess series (2″ collar) in early November.
JP is on a roll with their designs. They are launching a new collection (again) this Thursday. Here are two sneek peeks of the dresses available. Seems like JP is going for the cutesy look with the bow.