Tiger Hill is a favorite attraction in the Suzhou area, drawing travelers and locals alike to enjoy the gardens and the historic Yunyan Pagoda. Lesser known to many of the area’s visitors is the quietly unassuming bridal garment district nearby. Packed with locally run stores and workshops, the area is a must-see for anyone with a taste for local flair and certainly shouldn’t be missed by any brides-to-be. Now, it have been the largest wedding dress base in China, more and more buyers come here to buy garments from local wedding dresses factories.
Suzhou’s famed silk industry has thrived for centuries, and growing demand for stylish and well-priced wedding gowns has boosted the local dress-making industry. Brides from all over China visit the area to shop for gowns, ranging in price from 200 RMB ($30) to to over 3,000 RMB ($5,000). The area has much to offer, even if you don’t have an eye out for a wedding gown; tailors throughout the area also specialize in menswear and formal gowns, handcrafted in the Huqiu district’s local workshops.
Often referred to as a market, the area is in reality a scattered grouping of shops, with the more high-end stores located along the main roads and the smaller and less expensive shops extending down a maze of side streets and alleyways.
With the gowns handmade nearby, most stores offer expert tailoring to ensure a good fit and minimizes the hassle of having alterations done elsewhere. Most of the gowns will set you back around 2,000 RMB, though if you’re uncomfortable with a price you may be able to negotiate a discount with a sales manager.
Bargaining comes into play much more in the smaller shops located throughout the neighborhood’s alleyways. Wedding gowns in some of these stores can cost as little as 200 RMB, but keep in mind that the cost may mirror the appearance and quality of the garment. Moving away from the main streets, fewer and fewer shops label their merchandize with price tags, so it’s important to have a price point in mind and an eye out for quality before you begin negotiating a bargain.
Don’t let the uncertainty of the back streets deter you though. A handful of oddities and hidden gems are tucked away from view of the main streets, including various costume and specialty shops—even a store specializing in Elizabethan-style historical gowns. It’s worthwhile to do a bit of exploring!
Take the number 1 bus from the Suzhou Railway Station to the 虎丘首末站 stop (hu qiu shou mo zhan). When you get off at the bus stop, you will practically have arrived in the wedding shopping district. Walk south, away from the Tiger Hill tourism area down HuQiu Road, and the dress-filled storefronts will be immediately visible.