Be it a custom-made leather jacket, handcrafted jewelry or an edgy, au courant design that willowy porteñas (Buenos Aires residents) wear so well, tourists tend to arrive in Argentina’s cosmopolitan capital with room for purchases in their luggage. Potential language barrier aside, shopping in Buenos Aires can be daunting for outsiders. Big-box stores are noticeably absent, substituted instead with scores of bijoux boutiques, curated with only a few pieces of every design. The same goes for private showrooms, where much of the city’s best design work is being executed behind closed doors. It requires simply knowing they exist and then making a reservation to visit.
Fortunately for out-of-towners, a few Buenos Aires-based fashionistas have stepped up to guide you directly to the city’s best designer duds, boutiques, showrooms and the designers themselves, offering tailored tours and handy shopping resources.
Sophie Lloyd launched Shop Hop BA in 2010 to provide custom shopping experiences in the city after discovering firsthand that it’s all about knowing where to go. Having worked as a fashion journalist in Shanghai for five years, Lloyd — who is originally from the U.K. — is adept at diving into a foreign fashion scene. Her insider knowledge is widely appreciated, too: Even Buenos Aires denizens seek out her services.
For her tours, Lloyd will ask you to fill out a questionnaire. She uses your response to create personalized itineraries, which can include stops at vintage stores, ateliers or a talented silversmith, among others. Tours start at $40 per hour and there’s no obligation to purchase anything in the stores — though people almost always end up doing so. Lloyd picks the stops objectively, and she does not receive commission from any of the designers or stores.
Vanessa Bell also offers personal, bespoke tours and shopping services through her company, Creme de la Creme, which she launched about a year ago. Bell grew up visiting Buenos Aires regularly — her father is English and mother Argentine — and she spent her time exploring the fashion scene while in town, scouring boutiques and searching out the best designers. Prior to living in Buenos Aires year-round, Bell worked as a personal shopper at high-end store Browns in London, and she combines her industry know-how and Buenos Aires cultural insight in her tours. She also counts some of the city’s most illustrious designers among her friends.
Creme de la Creme clients also complete a questionnaire detailing their style tastes and expectations for the tour. The tours are highly personalized and therefore one-of-a-kind, and stops may include art galleries, leather workshops, antique or vintage stores as well as emerging fashion designers’ spaces. Bell conducts one-on-one or group tours for up to four people at $40 to $45 per hour, depending on the number of participants. Tours include a car service and can run from four hours up to a full day. For some of Bell’s personal picks and favorite designers, be sure to check out her blog.
For those who wish to navigate the Buenos Aires shopping scene on their own but want a push in the right direction, Natalie Schreyer’s The Buenos Aires Shop Girl blog is a key resource. A California native and self-professed shopaholic who moved to Buenos Aires more than three years ago, Schreyer exclusively features showroom shops and their designers on her site. She hunts out the city’s best talent, visiting showrooms (Mila Kartei, Deleon), interviewing the designers themselves and checking out the merchandise firsthand to ensure the craftsmanship and materials are worth highlighting. While Schreyer does not coordinate tours herself, she is well connected to local designers and individuals offering luxury shopping services in the city and happy to put readers in touch.
Photos Courtesy of BA Shop Girl and Felix Busso