Xu Hong's handmade leather goods. Provided to China Daily
Li Lu's Handmade ancient-style headwear. Provided to China Daily
If you want to stand out from the crowd, handmade fashion and one-off, made-to-order pieces offer the perfect solution - and a number of enterprising exponents have lost no time in marketing their wares.
How does a woman avoid the embarrassment of having the same handbag as another woman? How does one distinguish oneself from others with small budget that does not stretch to buying limited-edition fashion items?
The answer is to seek out handmade fashion and find one-off made-to-order pieces.
A search on Taobao, China's major online shopping platform, shows products marked as handmade, handicrafts and original designs are becoming increasingly popular.
Xu Hong, 29, quit her job in 2010 to take care of her family. She soon opened an online shop selling handmade bags and now earns about 10,000 yuan ($1,600) a month, a big increase on the salary at her previous job as a saleswoman in an education equipment supply company.
She first started doing craft projects to kill time. After trying cross-stitch and making fabric bags, she decided to try her hand at leather handbags.
Her first product was a leather-and-fabric tote bag, a kind of large bag with parallel handles, which took her about a week to finish.
"All the knowledge and skills I have on how to make a leather bag were obtained from books and the Internet," she said. "I spent lots of money buying unnecessary stuff at the beginning."
Xu's workshop was the 20-square-meter study in her apartment in Shanghai
A complete set of the equipment Xu uses to make bags costs about 10,000 yuan. This includes needles, a punching device, pliers and a drill, and does not include the price of the leather.
After finishing several bags, Xu decided to sell some online via Taobao.
"I had too many bags at home. I had to sell them for more space," she said.
Xu started her business on Jan 1, 2011 with two leather handmade bags. The first one was bought by her husband's workmate, "to support me" she said.
The second bag took about a week to sell.