Buenos Aires does have good shopping, but it’s hidden. You need to know where to look.
The first thing you’ll notice is that there isn’t a lot of traditional and indigenous craft around, like you might have seen in Peru. Porteños (the name for residents of Buenos Aires) prefer to dress like Europeans and Americans, and the government has so far failed to invest in native crafts and natural textiles. But because of Argentina’s economic woes and weird import/export rules, it’s actually very hard to import fashion from elsewhere.
So if you decide to take a stroll in Palermo and see what’s available, you’ll find either very expensive imported clothes, a lot of fast fashion that is manufactured in sweatshops right in Argentina, or overpriced secondhand fashion – like $17 used Forever21 tank tops. (U.S. consignment shops won’t accept that kind of stuff, but down here it’s more valued.)
So, window shopping is not a thing in Buenos Aires. What is a thing, is visiting the private studios of designers and brands, often with the help of a personal shopper, which many hotels, including the one we stayed in, will offer to connect you with. It’s a luxurious experience that will allow you to have a more meaningful experience during your time in Buenos Aires.
Not into the idea of having a personal shopper? Worried the personal shopper won’t get your leaning toward sustainable, ethical, and artisan fashion? I got you. Here are the best places to do a little bit of authentic shopping for beautiful alpaca sweaters, modern wide-brimmed hats, artsy upcycled ponchos, and more.
If you go to one store, it should be this one. It features beautiful sweaters, wraps, blankets, and home goods, ethically made in the Andes of Argentina by artisans with Andes textiles and materials, from Alpaca, Guanaco, Llama, carved wood and engraved metal. The fashion and objects have a sophisticated French style – you’ll walk out with a lifetime piece that will remind you forever of your time in this country. You can even sign up for an experience at the store to learn more through AirBnB.
Thames 1484. Monday – Saturday : 11 – 19; Sunday: Closed
This studio is located inside a grand renovated old train-track-side warehouse. Find artisan pieces from the Andes, including embroidered organic cotton dresses, smart llama wool coats, silk blouses, leather clutches, and the most fantastic flat-brimmed hats.
Here’s where you can get some thoughtful Argentinian gifts for your friends back home, like knits, coca leaves, clay pots, rugs, leather purses, art, backpacks, and coffee table books. It also sells Flan Mixto, a brand that combines vintage ponchos with denim and leather jackets for a truly amazing upcycled effect.
Nicaragua 4880. Monday – Friday: 11 am – 10 pm, Saturday: 12 – 6 pm. Sunday: closed.
Born in Argentina, Maria Abdala-Zolezzi (a.k.a. Maydi) worked for more than twelve years in the fashion industry in Paris and Milan for brands like Band of Outsiders, Sonia Rykiel, and Isabel Marant before returning to Argentina to found Maydi. The handmade sweaters, tops, bottoms, dresses and bags are all handknitted in a way that respects workers and the environment of natural fibers to achieve an ageless contemporary design.
Palermo neighborhood. To visit, email [email protected]
Inside this small, hip shopping mall, explore the three levels of mini stores to find Tienda Raíz, a collective up sustainable Latino designers who do colorful upcycling; Tienda Esotérica, a witch shop of stones, tarot, incense, jewelry, and other fashionably spiritual items; and Ina Ina, which carries emerging Argentinian emerging designers, most of whom have a very experimental spirit. Ask for their eco designers, and the sales associate should be able to point them out to you, but keep a special eye out for Lucia Chain.
Av. Santa Fe 2729. Monday – Saturday: 2 pm – 9 pm, Sunday: closed.
If you’re looking for something more modern, Nous Etudions does unisex, vegan, and sustainable collections in bright monochrome colors, like lemon yellow and cotton candy pink. Their store had just closed down when I visited (darn all those crazy Argentinian tax rules!) but the new Atelier de Nous has visiting hours.
Republic of India 3155, 1C (Republic of India and Liberator). Monday to Friday: 2 pm – 6 pm, Saturdays: 2 pm – 8pm