This post is out of chronological order because I wanted to wait for the custom clothing to be finished before posting it.
It's the weekend so Bunnie offered to take us on a fun trip to the LuoHu fabric mall. It's a place where you can get raw materials and also contract tailors to make custom clothing. The fabric mall itself was an impressive collection of stalls selling all kinds of fabric like denim, linen, cashmere, etc. Walking through the place was just floor to ceiling fabrics of all types. In the back, there were a bunch of tailors that would custom make the clothing for you from the available fabrics. All you had to do was go to a tailor, specify the clothing you wanted, either from the available magazines, a picture you have, or even a sketch. Then an assistant goes with you through the fabric stalls and helps you find the fabric that you want to use. Once it's done, then you negotiate the price of the fabric and the labor. Once the pricing is settled, you take your fabric back to the tailors shop, get the measurements, pay for the labor, and your custom made clothing or bag will be available in approximately one week.
I didn't have the slightest idea what I wanted made, but I figured that it'd be a good experience having something made just to see what the process is like. As I was walking to the tailor, I noticed some fake fur that was interesting and decided that I would make a fake fur coat. Truthfully, I was half joking when I suggested it, but when they said they could make it, I decided to give it a shot. The total cost of the labor plus materials was about $100. Most likely, I was being ripped off and could have gotten them to a lower price, but after negotiating for about 15 minutes, I was already tired and didn't want to deal with it. The main point was to make it a learning experience and get a custom fake fur coat in the process. Two things that were easily worth the cost.
Dhairya, another one of the media lab designers, sketched out a design that he wanted to get done, and Jie had two bags made using a special waterproof material. There was a four day turnaround for the garments and bags so we picked them up the next Thursday. Although I complained about the price initially, once I saw the finished coat, I felt like it was easily worth it. When we picked up the clothing and bags up, a bunch of the other media lab designers came with us to get other stuff made. It was really fun.
After the Luohu fabric mall, Bunnie and I went to the markets and were checking out LEDs and components. He ended up buying some funky looking LED strings with pastel colors and we were brainstorming on how best to implement them for his burning man outfit later this year. We tried a couple of different configurations but decided that pastel LED dreadlocks would have the best impact. I think by this time, we were thoroughly inebriated and decided to debug a problem he was having with one of his circuits.It turned out to be a simple soldering issue on a single board so we then had a small soldering contest to check out each other's soldering skills. I'd say we've gained a mutual respect for each other. Ha ha ha. Shenzhen is pretty fun :)