Believe it or not, there is one thing that we adore more than shopping—traveling. Forget shopping local, our favorite pastime is shopping in far-flung destinations. From the streets of Hong Kong, to the restaurants of Lisbon, we’ve set our fashionable feet on many a-stylish city. As we land in Europe and take-off from Asia, we scour for the hot spots to shop. One lazy Sunday as we sun-bathed in Golden Gate Park, we reminisced about some of our fave international shopping destinations.
Lena: Tokyo is a city of dichotomies when it comes to style (and just about everything). From trendsetters in Harajuku dressed for New York fashion week, to cutesy girls in ironically adolescent fluffy pink dresses, goth punks, hip hop divas, and stern business men in classy suits—it’s by far one of my favorite cities to shop. (Sadly my fat booty can hardly fit into a pair of pants, let alone a pant leg … or god forbid … a pair of shoes.) Oh the shoes—so many beautiful shoes too tiny for my Sasquatch feet.
Shyla: First of all, you have a phat booty, not a fat one. Second of all, you were not able to buy shoes? I can’t think of worse torture. Thirdly, I so regret not hauling my phat-ass into your suitcase.
Lena: So many sweet mochi-filled memories … Tokyo is hard to navigate but once you get to know the mammoth city and do some exploring, you’ll find quaint neighborhoods and hip streets. The most famous place to shop is the streets of Shibuya—think, Times Square on crack and then times that by ten.
Shibuya, photo courtesy of dadou (cc)
Shimokitazawa is a small neighborhood just a hop, skip, and a jump away (if trains could hop, skip, and jump) from Shinjuku station, a hub of all transportation in Tokyo. Here, winding boulevards are crowded with small boutiques, thrift stores, trendy cafes, and plenty of young hipsters smoking cigarettes and perusing the shops for tapered jeans and vintage tees.
Shimokitazawa, photo courtesy of xiaming (cc)
Shyla: I would be freaked to dive into shopping in a city the stature of Tokyo. I have heard crazy things about its size and uber hip youngsters. I’d probably just hide in some clandestine café and stuff my face with tempura and sake. There must be mountains of amazing secret riches. Isn’t everything there outrageously expensive?
Lena: After living in San Francisco, Tokyo seems like a cheapskate’s paradise. Okay, that’s a lie, but I when I lived there, I made next-to-nothing and still shopped my kimono off. (No surprise here.) You can find some great bargains in Tokyo, just stay away from the high priced department stores in Shinjuku and Shibuya. You can stretch your yen at unique, smaller boutiques, and the vintage style in Tokyo would make Marc Jacobs proud.
Tokyo is crazy ... crazy and inspiring. Especially when it comes to style—everyone lets their freak flags fly and no one judges because they all look outrageous and incredible. I love it. I miss it like I’d miss my soul mate. Is it possible for a city to be your soul mate?
Shyla: You went all Zen on me buddy, but I too am inspired and in love after hearing your Tokyo tales. From sushi to curry, still in Asia, another magnificent shopper’s delight is Bombay. Indian people are snobbishly stylish these days. There is a maze of boutiques, flashy designers, and local havens in this paradoxical metropolis. South Bombay is home to the rich and flamboyant. Take a trip to the Taj Mahal Hotel. (Note: Only shop there if you’re using Paris Hilton’s Amex.) If you are looking for a tamer price range, hit up the Oberoi Mall at the Sheraton Hotel.
Bombay, photo courtesy of lecercle (cc)
Lena: My favorite thing about Indian boutiques is the rich multihued fabrics, gorgeous embroidery, and clearly, the jewelry. Every time I visit, I come back with boxes full of shiny dangly earrings, glimmery rings, sparkly bangles, and long, elaborate necklaces.
Shyla: You are so right. (Talking about India is making me hungry. I want kabobs, naan, and prawn curry, now!) Back to jewelry … the writers of the Kama Sutra must have invented jewelry. One of my favorite places to shop in is Bandra. There is an adorable botique called Anokhi—a Jaipuri haven of textiles, clothes, and bags. Also in Bandra is a tiny shop called Omo. It has handmade one of-a-kind pieces. Lastly, every tourist in India hits up Fab India, and my-oh my, is it fab.
Lena: Darling, you are fab. You know what else is fab? Textiles in India are absolutely fabulous. My favorite cozy blanket is from the Bombay Store, a gargantuan store full of trinkets and traditional Indian goods. I adore kurtas, traditional Indian shirts with rich embroidery in lush silk fabrics. There’s an awesome store on Kemps Corner in Bombay called Luknow Chickan—weird name, gorgeous shirts. (I have about forty-two.)
Bombay, photo courtesy of nehavish (cc)
Shyla: You could probably be the next Bollywood film star strutting your ‘ish in your kurta-ness. Watch out Aishwarya Rai … Speaking of Bollywood, you can not miss out on all of the high-end designer boutiques housing traditional Indian clothing. My favorite is Oak Tree on Colaba Causway. This store is brimming with Sabyasachi, the most brilliant Indian designer. Bombay is a city for genuine shoppers. Just be sure to bargain your balls off. Tia mia, enough samosa talk, take me to Europe and gimme some sangria to sip on.
Lena: Barcelona is truly my idea of heaven. I spent six months of lazy days nursing my glorious hangovers with steaming cappuccinos at open air cafés. My blissful nights were spent drinking and dancing, and my days were spent skipping school in exchange for shopping sprees—tremendous, magnificent shopping sprees. Barcelona is by far my favorite international shopping destination.
Oh Shy, mi amor, Barcelona has everything a girl could want: culture, art, the beach, sexy Spanish men with hot accents, stellar shopping, eclectic cuisine, mind blowing architecture, party-your-ass off nightlife … oh the cava-infused recollections! One of my favorite areas to shop in was around La Rambla. The Barrio Gotic had tons of mouthwatering stores to empty your euro or just window shop. Calle Portaferrissa was my all time fave street for a broad on a budget. My favorite store was May Day, which housed trendy European designers like Miss Sixty and the cutest clothes in town. I was obsessed.
La Rambla, photo courtesy of dolanh (cc)
Passeig de Gracia is a major shopping street in Barcelona with high end designer labels, and not so high end labels like Mango, Zara (where the stores originated), and Diesel. Here there are myriad shops to strut our fashionable booties into and buy to our hearts’ content (or to our credit cards’ limit).
Shyla: I am getting dizzy thinking about all of the hip shops and fun clothes. Barcelona, is cool, Parc Guell is pretty sweet, but I am a true Madrielo. Madrid, after all is the capital brimming with talent, fashion, fanatical nightlife, gorgeous parks, stunning (and over-the-top affectionate) men … stop me or I will go on for another few years … I lived one block from La Calle de Fuencarral—think Fifth Avenue meets paella. Fuencarral houses endless boutiques with unique designs, killer shoe stores, and the cutest clothes you have ever seen. My favorite boutique was a store called Remember in Chueca one block from my balcòn.
The center of the town, Sol, is the best place to shop. I was introduced to stores like H&M and Top Shop, and all of the Euro-started stores at cheaper prices with cuter clothes. Madrid epitomizes hip meets chic.
Madrid, photo courtesy of dccxlix (cc)
Lena: I mean, Madrid is cool, but it is no Barcelona; stop bragging your butt off. I do adore Top Shop and I will admit that the one in Madrid was amazing, but that’s all I’ll give you. Barcelona is the best city in the world. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Shyla: Whatev, you are just jealous that you didn’t live in the nucleus of the craziness. The absolute best part of shopping in Madrid was El Rastro. Every Sunday two whole neighborhoods are taken over by vendor stalls. The corners and alleys of El Rastro house the most amazing clothes, furniture, antiques, jewelry, and treasures.
Lena: Okay, El Rastro does sound hot. I tried to go when I visited, but my hangover got the best of me, and I stuck to hot coffee instead. Since we obviously will never agree on which city is cooler, let’s just agree to disagree. Spain is spectacular and stylish—we can both whole-heartedly agree on that.
From our Sangria-filled memories in Spain to our spiritual shopping sprees in India, we have journeyed to some of the hippest spots on the globe. We’d globe trot twenty-four-seven if our wallets (and our jobs, ahem) permitted it. Sadly, our wallets are generally drained and our work-related travel happens via the World Wide Web. Regardless, we reminisce with the best of them about our escapades abroad filled with rock-star nights and shopping-spree days in our most favorite, fashion-forward cities.