The World’s 9 Best Cities for Shopping
Some people like to relax on a white sandy beach with the waves lapping at their feet, while others prefer to trek mountains and explore the wilderness, but sometimes our idea of the perfect vacation is somewhere we can shop. The world’s most beautiful stores are home to more than just fashion: Many of the world’s top retailers are just as famous for their architecture and interior design elements. And the best part about shopping overseas is finding those unique and one-off pieces no one else will own back home—even better when the dollar is strong. From Paris to Singapore, scroll down to discover some of the cities we love, including must-visit malls and our favourite fashion strips.
Courtesy of Louis Vuitton
This is the city-state where shopping is considered a national hobby. For the dedicated shopper, head to Asia's premier luxury destination, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands with close to 1,000,000 square feet of commerce heaven. There's over 300 stores, all under the one roof including luxury duplexes for boutiques such as Ralph Lauren, Chanel, Cartier and Prada.
If you still have more purchasing power, you have to visit Singapore’s monster mall, ION Orchard, even if it’s just for the building’s architecture. Its incredibly futuristic appearance is a photographer’s dream. Costing about $1.5 billion to build, the ION Orchard spans eight retail floors, including another 48 residential floors on top of that, with more than 333 stores of high-fashion brands and gourmet dining. If you’re planning a trip, be sure to book it during the Great Singapore Sale, Singapore’s biggest sale of the year.
Gamla Stan by Devonshire Media
Home to some of our favourite brands—hello, Acne—and some of the world’s most stylish bloggers (Zanita and Look de Pernille), Stockholm is high up on our list. And if you need further proof of the city’s global style ranking, it even has its own fashion week. But apart from its stylish setting and people, we love the al fresco aspect of Stockholm’s shopping experience. For the ultimate in outdoor browsing, you must visit the historic Västerlånggatan ("the Western Long Street"). It's the central shopping street of Gamla Stan, a well-preserved old town that dates back to the 16th century and is packed with shops, small cafés, and stunning architecture.
Prada store, Dover Street Market Ginza, via 10 Corso
When we polled the office, Tokyo was definitely on most people’s shopping bucket list. This high-energy city is famous for its unique mix of interesting designer stores, huge shopping malls, and offbeat fashion boutiques in the popular Shinjuku neighbourhood.
If you’re more of a mall shopper, you’ll love KITTE. Located right in front of the Tokyo station, the six-level atrium building has a unique wedge-shaped interior with an outdoor garden on the top floor. We love the architecture, but with more than 100 boutiques and restaurants dedicated to Japanese aesthetics and cuisine, the storefronts are the draw for us. It’s also connected to the underground tunnel, so tourists can get to and from the building easily.
For vintage fans, the New York Joe Exchange is a super-fun treasure trove brimming with modern secondhand clothing. You can buy, sell, and trade.
A trip to Tokyo isn’t complete without a visit to the affluent Ginza shopping district. Think super-high-end boutiques and shiny department stores, including the avant-garde Dover Street Market Ginza. Famed Comme des Garçons designer Kawakubo Rei was the creative director behind this phenomenal building that has seven floors of Japanese fashion and art installations throughout, making it a must-visit destination.
Go even higher up the designer tree with a visit to Istean. This is without a doubt one of the most luxurious department stores in Tokyo, if not the world. All the designers live there: Think Chloe, Fendi, Chanel, and beyond. Even if you don’t buy anything (which we’d find hard to believe), the experience of shopping in Tokyo is worth the trip alone.
As host to one of the biggest fashion shows in the world, the Milanese live and breathe fashion. If luxury designer clothing is your vice, you’ve come to the right place. All of the world-famous Italian designers are here, from Versace to Armani to Missoni.
Quality design is everywhere in Milan: A stroll down the quiet side streets will take you to some of the best ateliers making handmade leather shoes and world-class artisanal pieces. Just walking the streets is a feast for the eyes: Everyone is impeccably dressed and über-chic.
For the grand mall experience, head to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world’s oldest shopping malls that is home to all the big design houses, including Prada, Louis Vuitton, and Gucci. If you’re planning a trip here, it might be worth setting up that savings plan now.
Level Shoe District, The Dubai Mall, via Harper's Bazaar
There really is no other shopping destination quite like Dubai. It’s home to one of the world’s biggest shopping malls, the Dubai Mall, which has more than 1,200 shops, including 160 selling food and beverages. To overcome shopping exhaustion, you can let the staff at the mall’s in-house resort bring you back to life. Or perhaps a quick visit to the world’s largest candy store, Candylicious, will do the trick. At 10,000 square feet, there are literally millions of sweets to satisfy your saccharine cravings. But if your feet are still willing and able, strut on up to the largest shoe store in the world, Level Shoe District, which sells 600 pairs of shoes a day. And if you have the cash to splash, there’s a 24-karat-gold velvet high-heeled pump for about USD$3000. This is shoe lover's heaven, with 96,000 square feet of footwear and 300 brands to choose from, including 40 stand-alone designer boutiques.
We certainly couldn’t compile the world’s best shopping list without including one of the most stylish cities in the world: Paris.
With downright magical department stores like the Galeries Lafayette and Printemps, this is a city you want to get lost in. While the shopping at Printemps is like something out of a dream, be prepared for a sensory explosion when you visit the sixth-floor brasserie. Take a seat on one of the famous Philipe Starck Lucite Ghost chairs and enjoy the light show from the stunning stained-glass dome that reflects onto the mirrored tables below.
For something a little more casual, but no less enchanting, take a stroll down to the historic quarter Le Marais, prime stomping ground for lovers of the one-off and unique pieces, antiques, and art. A shopping trip to Paris wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the hottest and most popular fashion sectors: the Avenue Montaigne, Avenue des Champs-Elysées, and the Saint Honouré with all the flagship designer boutiques. They don’t call it the city of love for nothing.
If you want a heady dose of culture thrown into your shopping trip, then head to the mysterious and otherworldly city of Marrakech, Morocco. The Souk is probably one of the most legendary shopping destinations, thanks to its incredible variety and treasure hunt experience. It does require a little bit of strolling and searching, but you’ll find a colourful curation of leather poufs, rugs jewellery, clothing, footwear, brass fixtures, home accents, and spices.
While it’s well known for its markets, Marrakech is also home to a number of boutiques that cater to the sophisticated European crowd that loves to vacation there. The selection here is impeccable. Don’t miss visiting the concept store 33 Rue Majorelle, specializing in homewares and clothing; Hanout; Stephanie Jewels; Aya’s for clothing; Amira Bougie for candles; Maison Fenyadi for décor; and Nihal for textiles, pillows, and modern woven pieces.
GUM by Lugermad
Moscow might seem like a surprise addition to our global shopping list, but the capital of Russia has become a popular shopping destination, thanks to street style fixtures Lena Perminova, Miroslava Duma, and Anya Ziourova, who promote their city and their dramatic style to millions of global fans. From haute couture to Soviet vintage, Moscow women love their fashion and have mastered the art of looking sleek—and expensive. One of the best places to whip out the plastic is the beautiful GUM department store located on Red Square. The stunning glass roof was designed by Russian engineer Vladimir Shukhov and gives the feeling of al fresco shopping inside.
We left NYC for the end because it’s very close to our hearts. If you really want to shop up a storm, it’s time to take a delicious bite out of the Big Apple. This vibrant metropolis is a mecca for malls, beautiful boutiques, fantastic independent fashion, and insane vintage finds. Head to high-end heaven in the Financial District with True Religion Brand Jeans, Hermes, and Tiffany & Co. Chinatown is crowded, but the markets along Canal are worth the bustle, and you just never know what you will find. The Lower East Side is basically run by artists and hipsters, so you’ll find a plethora of designer boutiques, trendy art galleries, and cool lifestyle stores like Reed Space. SoHo is where it’s at for cool commercial designers like H&M, J.Crew, and Old Navy, Victoria’s Secret, and Bloomingdales, and Prada’s flagship is must-see just for the architecture by Rem Koolhaas. The East Village is bohemian central with awesome bookstores and vintage shops, and don’t miss Obscura Antiques & Oddities for one-of-a-kind fashion, homewares, novelties, and costumes.