Wednesday 5 September 2012

Bonjour Bangkok: 4 stalls not to miss at the weekend market – Chatuchak (Jatujak)

There is no doubt that one of the must do's on any trip to Bangkok is to spend the day losing yourself in the labyrinth that is the massive sprawl of Chatuchak Market.

But unless you love t-shirts and blogshops, the thousands of stalls in the massive weekend market could mean frustration rather than fashion heaven.

It takes patience, but amongst the rows and rows of cheap and cheerful are some genuinely talented young (and even established) Thai labels which sell really original and high quality items for you to wow your friends with.

stingray leather rings and bracelets at Bangkok's Chatuchak Market
Forget the tacky t-shirts and knick-knacks and use your time at
the massive weekend market to get your hands on these stingray beauties!!

Guate bags at Bangkok's Chatuchak Market
Also head to Guate for some high quality and affordable leather
accessories, where you also get to watch the artisans handcrafting them!

So what’s the answer? Well one option is to get your walking shoes on and traipse around for hours hoping for a little gem. The second option?

Luckily for you, I did the legwork and found some highlights to help you ensure your trip to this incredible market isn't just about flip-flops and "amusing" 150 baht t-shirts.

1-  Shellmania (Section 9, Soi 18/1)

Shellmania at Bangkok's Chatuchak Market
Love these statement shell bangles, going for less than S$40!

shell rings at Bangkok's Chatuchak Market

stingray leather accessories at Bangkok's Chatuchak Market
Colourful accessories made of stingray leather are also to-die for!

stingray leather accessories at Bangkok's Chatuchak Market

As the name suggests, this place is specialized in seashells, and a more unusual stingray leather accessories. The shop takes on 2 stalls filled with an array of candy-coloured rings, earrings, and necklaces and gorgeous statement bangles made of shells and necklaces. The place does wholesale as well which makes the prices quite good value. Expect to pay around 190 baht (around S$7) for a stingray ring and up to 950 baht (around S$40) for a shell cuff.

Everything on display is so beautiful and you’ll probably going to spend an hour deciding which colour ring you should settle on. I’d say bring a few as for that price they make a better souvenir than a fridge magnet!

2-  Kinnaree (Section 9, Soi 18)

Silk blouses and dresses at Kinnaree in Bangkok's Chatuchak Market
Great quality Thai silk garments in vibrant colours at KINNAREE

Silk blouse at Kinnaree in Bangkok's Chatuchak Market

They also stock some one-off statement jewellery pieces like this
gorgeous turquoise necklace.

Silk blouse at Kinnaree in Bangkok's Chatuchak Market

grey silk dress at Kinnaree in Bangkok's Chatuchak Market

Another wholesaler, this time specializing in silk and linen clothes, this place was one of the few which caught my eye as it stood out from the blogshop-style stalls which are selling more of the same. The dresses here are pretty and easy to wear and I was impressed by the quality of the silk and understated designs (which are done inhouse) that would suit a 45-year -old as much as a 20-year-old woman.

Everything is quite simple here, focusing on the bright colours, beautiful material and flattering fit which transcends trends and appear more like classic pieces with a twist, worth investing in. Prices range from 800 baht (around S$32) for a silk top up to 6000 baht (around S$240) for a gorgeous tiered made-to-order evening gown.

3-  Guate (Section 23, Soi 33)

Guate leather at  Bangkok's Chatuchak Market

One of the artisans at Guate, working away on a leather bracelet

wallet at Guate leather in Bangkok's Chatuchak Market
Love this wallet!!! you have to see the stuff in real to appreciate
the amazing quality of leather and stitching in every piece at Guate!

green handbag at Guate leather in Bangkok's Chatuchak Market
Stunning leather bag!!!! Was going for less than S$200!

From the smell of genuine leather passing by this stall, I had to stop and check it out. To my surprise, one of the designers of this label was sitting just across, working away and hand stitching some gorgeous leather accessories. This place stood out from the lot for its minimal design, bright colours and unbelievable quality. All for a great price which wouldn’t even buy you a faux leather fake LV back home. Everything from the big totes to weekend bags, clutches and coin purses looked gorgeous – and obviously made with love! If you’re planning on buying a new bag, this is the place to go. Prices range from as little as 600 baht (around S$24) for accessories up to 6000 baht (around S$240) for a weekend leather bag.

4-  กากี่นั้ง ‘One of Us’  T-shirt shop (Section 8, Soi 17)

One of us vintage t-shirts in Bangkok's Chatuchak Market
This is not your average t-shirt shop... some really cool and
'tasteful' designs in there!

A print of a very old Thai coin... can you read it?

t-shirts and bags from Aui - One of Us vintage t-shirts in Bangkok's Chatuchak Market
Each design here is taken from vintage newspaper ads! Some
are really hilarious!!!

Aui - owner of One of Us vintage t-shirts in Bangkok's Chatuchak Market
Also got to meet Aui, the designer behind the label who was at the
stall and explained to me some of the designs and illustrations.

There is no way you walk in any street  market in Bangkok without seeing dozens of stalls and shops selling printed t-shirts of all colours and styles! But while the Khaosan road market is the backpacker choice and is nowadays full of less than stylish touristy and mass-produced designs, this stall at the weekend market beats it hands down! The designs here are replicas of old Thai newspaper ads and range from outrageous, funny, weird and just puzzling… which the owner Aui produces and designs.

What’s also distinct about this particular label is the colour and quality of the cotton in t-shirts and bags which look very vintage-y and complement the illustrations. T-shirts here come in different cuts as well, American and Asian, so no fear of not fitting. At a mere 170 baht (around S$7) you can get the design you like printed on either a t-shirt or a bag and will certainly be something you’ll cherish and wear when you get back home.

If you have any great labels I've missed then please leave them in the comments section below for others to see and visit!