You can get an Armani suit or a Prada handbag anywhere. Well, maybe not quite anywhere: if you come from a small town or city, there’s a good chance that you won’t have an Armani or Prada shop to go to. But head to any capital city, the airport, or online and you won’t have to look hard to find these brands.
Visiting another city is a chance to find products and items of clothing that you wouldn’t normally be able to find anywhere else. It’s a chance to discover new designers and boutiques, flea markets and independent shops, and to support them.
Paris is like Mecca for shopaholics. The Champs-Élysées and Rue St-Honoré have international fame for their allure of fantastic shops, but there’s a lot more to Paris than these two areas.
Montmartre, for example, is home to some of Paris’ best independent boutiques. Although expensive, you will find plenty of unique French designers that offer something different to the international fare found in the town centre.
Head to Rue Oberkampf next. Here, you’ll find an interesting collection of bohemian shops that sit alongside hipster cafés and fashionable wine bars. Rues Étienne Marcel, du Jour, and du Louvre, similarly are home to many small boutiques and independent brands that you aren’t likely to be able to find back home.
From big brand names to quirky flea markets, London has it all. And, if you’re coming from another country, London has just gotten a whole lot cheaper thanks to Brexit! Most people head straight for Oxford Street, for everyday brands like Primark, H&M, and Next, before heading to the big departments stores like Harrods, Selfridges, and Liberty. But, London has a lot more to offer than Oxford Street and Harrods.
In fact, step just off of Oxford Street and onto one of the 13 streets that make up Carnaby and your shopping will get a whole lot more interesting. Here, mixed among some of the many designer names, you’ll find a great selection of small, independent shops and boutiques and heritage brands.
Then there’s Notting Hill, famous in part thanks to the film with the same name. For those on the lookout for antiques and collectables, this area is a treasure trove of opportunities with shops selling vintage clothing, antiques, and second-hand books.
Continue onto nearby Westbourne Grove, stopping first to check for bargains at the Portobello Market. Here, at Westbourne Grove, you’ll find another great smattering of boutique shops and small labels, nestled in amongst independent coffee shops and art galleries.
Milan is one of Europe’s most fashionable cities, and home to many big brands like Armani, Prada, Versace, Salvatore Ferragamo, and Ermenegildo Zegna.
It isn’t surprising then, that Milan is also home to many great small shops. Head past the well-trodden Quadrilatero della Moda and Quadrilatero d’Oro and head to Corso di Porta Ticinese instead. When it comes to This is one of Milan’s best vintage shops. The area is pretty alternative, and you’ll have to wander plenty of tattoo parlours to find what you’re looking for.
The journey is worth it, though. Here, you’ll find unique shops that you won’t find anywhere else like Tokidoki, a Japanese cult store that specialises in original street wear, Japanese toys, and designer skates. FRIP showcases the best of small British and Scandinavian designers, while Antonioli curates items from Martin Margiela, Dries van Noten, AF Vandevorst, and DSquared.
For vintage, Serendeepity is the shop to visit. Here, amongst the many second-hand books and CDs, you’ll find plenty of unique and unusual items that you probably won’t be able to find anywhere else.