The Best Under-the-Radar Cities to Shop Around the World
Despite the overwhelming popularity and convenience of online shopping, nothing can replace the in-store experience—especially when it comes to purchasing our favorite designer brand. Trying it on, feeling the luxe fabrics, and enjoying the elevated customer service are all part of the appeal. With the onset of e-commerce, companies have had to rethink their retail space and find innovative ways to lure customers back in, from beautiful concept stores that fuse fashion and food to the boutiques that are just as much, if not more, about the interior design and architecture as the clothing that hangs within them. When we recently featured the world’s nine best cities for shopping, your comments revealed a few places we left out. So we fused your suggestions with some more of our favorites. Scroll down for a few alternative cities for indulging in your favorite pastime—shopping.
First stop is the Verso concept store, literally a one-stop shop for luxury fashion, designer dining, and beautiful barware. The 16th-century mansion has been beautifully restored with a luxurious aesthetic, making it the perfect backdrop for the striking fashion, couture, and home décor. For all the footwear fanatics, don’t miss Coccodrillo, one of Europe’s leading shoe boutiques. Browse chic shoe collections from Martin Margiela, Dries van Noten, Dirk Bikkembergs, and Ann Demeulemeester, among others.
For a mall-style shopping experience, Shopping Stadsfeestzaal is the place. Located in the heart of Antwerp, it offers more than 40 shops over four levels, including fashion, leisure, and food. The old-town pub forms the centerpiece, lovingly restored it to its original 1906 plans, including the glass dome and gilded plaster that take your breath away. Then when your stomach calls, head over to The Jane restaurant. Housed inside the chapel of a former military hospital, the historic architecture blends seamlessly with the modern interior designed by Dutchman Piet Boon. The enormous chandelier hangs center stage in the dining room, with 150 lights at the end of black rods. It’s a sight to behold.
Thanks to a diverse range of stylish independent retailers, the Cophenhagen high street is thriving. There, you’ll find a large number of owner-run boutiques, from fashion to interior design, and high-end secondhand stores. A comment from our recent story on the best cities for shopping around the world brought our attention to Denmark, saying the “city is rivaling their neighbors now.” And we have to agree. Lorna Hall, head of retail at fashion industry forecaster WGSN, told The Telegraph, “It seems refreshing to us in the UK. It has a nice independent feel, even though in fact some of the stores have a big company owner standing behind them. There’s an exciting mix of big shops and small, quirky stores.” Denmark’s design sector is world-renowned and has become an awesome place to shop unique, cutting-edge pieces.
Not only are the stores super cool, but Copenhagen’s streets are steeped in history, too, further enhancing the shopping experience with their architectural beauty. A classic example of this is the main shopping street, Strøget. It’s also Europe’s longest pedestrian thoroughfare (about 3000 feet long), featuring everything from Gucci to Topshop. Every store is insanely stylish, just like the By Malene Birger flagship, which teamed up with Italian design firm Dimore Studio to fit out the interior of its fashion retail store—we have a designer crush on this Milan-based duo. Perhaps one the biggest shopping attractions is Illum, with everything you could ever want to see from designer fashions to upmarket food. You have to visit the bold red Acne Studios boutique designed by Bozarthfornell Architects. And don’t miss some of the best in Danish and Scandinavian design at Illums Bolighus, with some seriously beautiful statement pieces.
If you want to see the best of the city’s architecture while you shop, take a stroll along the elegant avenue of Passeig de Gràcia. Enjoy some of the best Catalan modernist architecture, including the beautifully restored Casa Batlló, built in 1877 by famous Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí and Josep Maria Jujol. Among the modernist buildings, you’ll find the best stores, from the luxurious brands such as Loewe, Chanel, and Saint Laurent to high-street favorites Zara, Mango, and Benetton. For design aficionados and collectors, head to Inventory. Located in the fashion district, this boutique celebrates the unique and handmade with a curated selection of homewares and lifestyle pieces from local producers, manufacturers, and growers. If Barcelona is your next shopping trip, then be sure to book a room at the gorgeous Cotton House Hotel in a historic 19th-century building complete with midcentury furniture.
The best part about shopping in Vancouver is its diversity. There are so many hip and fashionable neighborhoods, from the modern to the eclectic, to explore. Perhaps the most well known is the Robson Street in downtown Vancouver. Lined with international designer brands, clothes, and accessories, it’s a veritable treasure hunt for the dedicated shopper. The blocks from Burrard Street to Jervis Street are bursting with boutiques, bars, and restaurants. For Vancouver’s version of Rodeo Drive, head directly to Alberni Street and enjoy an exciting hub of upscale fashion not unlike the famous stretch in L.A. To get off the street and into the mall, check into the Metropolis at Metrotown. With 400 stores, it’s easily one of the biggest. For interior design doyennes, head to the historic Gastown and step into L’Atelier Home, a high-end homewares store with a vintage vibe.
The Melbourne style set are renowned Australia-wide for their chic and classic fashion aesthetic. The historic Melbourne Laneways are littered with local labels, independent boutiques, unique eateries, hole-in-the-wall coffee shops, and luxury designers. If you love shopping, then you’ll love Melbourne. There’s a cool street in every suburb inviting you to wander and discover—from the hip Brunswick Street in Fitzroy with vintage stores galore to the high-end flagships in Armadale to the mall-style designer heaven in the city’s heart. The newest shopping mecca, Emporium Melbourne, is a must-visit with more than 225 shops across seven levels. Along with luxury labels Chanel, Michael Kors, and Doctor Denim, you’ll find the largest collection of Australian designers under one roof, including Dion Lee’s stunning flagship. Popular Swedish high-street brand H&M entered the Australian market in style, taking over the heritage-listed Melbourne’s GPO. The Victorian-era post office building was completely transformed into a stunning modern shopping haven.