When I travel to a foreign country, the first thing I like to do is shop. Museums, theater, well…they can wait. Buenos Aires is the perfect place for the shopaholic, but if you’re new to the city or here for a short trip, the options are so plentiful it can be hard to choose just a few. If you must narrow it down, design your day around some of the foremost names in Argentine fashion. You can’t go wrong. Now here’s my quick list or guide for the best shopping in Buenos Aires with little time here.
When it comes to big names, it doesn’t get any bigger than Maria Cher. She is the quintessential local designer, and every one of her ultra-trendy collections is beloved by locals. Think prints, wide leg pants, a strong balance of basics and evening wear, and at least one standout dress that steals the show. Her alliance with Dove is a bonus to her most recent collections. Proceeds from the sale of each cotton T-shirt created for the collaboration go to a different foundation each season. The most recent is Fundacion Paz, which uses their
program “Cosiendo Redes” to teach unemployed and underemployed workers how to sew and craft garments. This program gives underprivileged citizens the chance to compete in a challenging Argentine job market. Now that is style I can get behind.
Along with Maria Cher, Rapsodia absolutely dominates the big names in the local market. Season after season, their colorful prints and classic boho chic look captivate the magazines and runways of Argentina. If you want to get a good idea of what Rapsodia has to offer, imagine a slightly funkier version of Anthropologie. I’m addicted to their super comfy maxi dresses, and many locals covet their jeans. Unique touches like fringe and sequins top off some of the more distinctive pieces.
As we continue our shopping tour, we’ll need to start adding some accessories to those new outfits. Perhaps the most prominent name in Argentine bags is Prune. Formerly known for their trendy styles at reasonable prices, the price tags have now gone up, although the trendiness remains. Prune took a turn into the high-end market when they began their collaboration with the fabulous model and socialite, Concepcion Blaquier. Two seasons ago, she began to create exclusive, limited-edition purses to add to the more basic line, and they are absolutely stunning. In order to get your hands on one, you’ll have to get there early, and only a few of the many Prune locations actually sell Concepcion’s designs. If you’re not into high-end, you can still find a plethora of basic bags, from clutches to carryalls, in almost every color you can imagine. Prune is a must on your shopping list in Buenos Aires.
As we move on to shoes, it’s difficult to choose a place to begin. There are an incredible amount of brand names that own the market (such as Paruolo and Sibyl Vane), but if you’re after something not found in your average mall, pay a visit to Recoleta’s DeMaria. Their specialty is flats, which are a big help in this city of cobblestone streets and broken down sidewalks. They do stock a few heels, and as a bonus, you can even pick up some adorable pairs for your little one. The children’s line is just as eye-catching as their collection for adults. My fave were the sparkling ruby red slippers. Oh so glam.
Now that we’re covered from head to toe, let’s focus on some style artistry. A shopping based visit to Buenos Aires wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the atelier of the King of Argentine couture, Tramando by Martin Churba. The clothes are one of a kind, and every season Mr. Churba outdoes himself. The most captivating aspect of his unusual clothes is undoubtedly the unconventional fabrics. Ever considered wearing a dress made out of a rubber blend? Yeah, me neither until I came here. The clothes are fascinating, but the sizes can be tricky, as they are mostly made for a slimmer figure.
If you are really short on time, a trip to one of the local shopping malls is probably your best option. I recommend the Galerias Pacifico downtown. The beautiful fresco covering the ceiling makes the experience unique to Buenos Aires. Let’s just say it’s definitely not your typical suburban mall. At the Galerias, you will find all of the classic Argentine brands, including Maria Cher, Rapsodia, and Paula Cahen D’Anvers, as well as international names. One of Argentina’s signature leather shops, Rossi and Caruso, is located inside this expansive mall, but it gets pretty pricey. Nevertheless, gifts such as belts, wallets or key chains can be purchased at a good value and the extensive shopping guide can be reduced to one stop.
Shopping is one of the most fundamental aspects of any exciting adventure to a new city. In Buenos Aires, the choices are limitless, but with just these few shopping guide highlights, you are sure to find a few fabulous pieces for your wardrobe. No matter how long or short your stay, one thing is for sure- Buenos Aires is an experience you’ll never forget.
Updated: March 1, 2011
For additional shopping suggestions read some of Natalie’s other articles or check out Gringo in Buenos Aires’ Shopping Guide