For all this talk about Asian bras and where to get them, I thought I should cover one local source for those in the Los Angeles area. For those whom are not fluent in the language, stepping foot in an ethnic lingerie store can be intimidating. Hopefully I can provide some insight to better prepare you.
PERSONAL TOUCH STORES
Today, we will specifically talk about the Personal Touch Lingerie stores. Partially because I have personally purchased Satami bras there but also because they are the ONLY retailer licensed to sell Satami Lingerie in the United States due to an exclusive contract.
I've been to a few of their locations and they all seem to have the same look - characteristic of a chain store. Well lit, clean with nice displays, the store is welcoming yet cozy like a boutique. Typical of many lingerie stores, the sales people will offer to help you find what you're looking for - which is often followed by a "can I measure you?". Those of you who know your ABTF size and tried to shop for that size know that sales people will 1.) try to convince you that you are wrong or 2.) sister size you into a bra size that they actually carry.
Today was no exception. A woman with flawless skin and good English assists me. She measures me and tells me I'm a 36E. I practically laughed. I told her that I already own a 32 and the band still fits - tight but fits. Still not convinced, she hands me a 34E to start with and will "go from there". At least the 34E is a sister size to my usual 32F (UK). I try it on and the band fits but cups were too small. She then has me try on a 34G. It fits almost perfectly.
She then brings out a few different styles in the same size. We go through a few iterations of trying things on, assessing fit and preferred style. While she always asked to come back in, there were many times were I was expected to change with her still in the room. More than once, she helped pull the girls forward while trying on a bra.
Typical of my experiences at Personal Touch (and other lingerie stores), she brings bras in my preferred style (underwire) but also other styles (wireless, sports bra). You are not required to try anything on but it may take SEVERAL polite "no, thank you's" to get the message across. Repeat for shapewear, underwear, etc.
In short, lingerie shopping at an Asian boutique (or perhaps all boutique lingerie stores for that matter) is not for the faint of heart. The sales people are very hands on, talk non-stop and do not hold back (such point out that the low rise bikini you're wearing might be better suited for someone younger and might I consider a light shaping brief?).
1.) Know your UK size (Satami is based in Hong Kong, which uses the UK standard)
2.) Be firm and become a broken record (temporarily)
3.) Be thick skinned. Know there is no ill will - whether implied or stated. They are there to assist you (and make a sale) by being straight forward.
4.) Call ahead to find the name of a sales person who speaks fluent English and make an appointment with them. I cannot tell you the number of times I walked into a Personal Touch store and they only spoke in Mandarin Chinese. The Arcadia location was the only one I've been to where the sales lady was fluent.
My experience is in no way representative of ALL Asian run lingerie stores and only serves as a glimpse of what may occur. If having a bit of insight prevents someone from freaking out at the store because they have an idea of what to expect, then all the better.