Story by Alais Diop
The boutique interiors are always well decorated. There is usually a bench or a table with two chairs on the sidewalk, facing the store’s entrance. Sometimes, there is even a bouquet of flowers. Inside, the chairs or couches invite you to stay. It smells good. On the counter, you find decorations such as a small silver tree that holds rings and bracelets. The clothes and accessories are displayed with attention in an elegant and artsy way. Of course, each place is different, discernible by the purple velvet curtains of the fitting rooms, the leather on the couches, or the silk of the blouses. Each place is undeniably unique.
These one-of-a-kind interiors can be seen in a wide variety of independent stores in the trendy neighborhoods of Palermo Soho and Palermo Hollywood in Buenos Aires. They mark the city’s evolution into the next big place to look at in terms of fashion trends and trend setters. The art of shopping is in the veins of the porteños’ — literally “people of the port,” the name given to the city’s inhabitants — and luckily, there is a lot of choice for them, and you, to develop a fashion sense in Buenos Aires.
There are tons of stores and malls all around the city. Rapsodia, Chocolate, Bendito Pie at first sound unfamiliar, but are full of hidden treasures, such as the Argentine version of platform shoes. These consists of extremely elevated even platforms designed for sneakers, boots and heels that every porteña has in her closet.
Other original pieces range from jean jumpsuits to colorful leather skirts with studded details, handmade jewelry, and printed dresses with fringes, along with amazing local designer clothes that are fit for the adventurous shopper. Usually, there is a cardboard box in the middle of the store filled with sales items, like cashmere scarves and colored tights.
After fighting the 2001 financial crisis, Argentinians gained more confidence and let their creativity and freedom of expression explode. Their main desire was to restore national pride (both sentimentally and in terms of the peso), highlighting a sense of dignity that the financial crisis muddled. This started with designers who chose to open their small shops in Palermo with their own collections and a lot of ambition.
Argentina’s semi-annual Fashion Week in Buenos Aires, open to the public, showcases this young and dynamic state of mind. It is like a massive festival: there are massage booths in between shows, discounts on home decor and fashion stores, private access to showrooms sales, and other activities. It is also a never-ending party: a week of festivities for every type of customer, spectator, or both. The mix of unique new boutiques with Argentina’s history makes Buenos Aires the perfect destination for a fashionista, and next year’s fashion week route should include Buenos Aires to showcase how casually cool the city has become.
This story appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of Baedeker.