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Friday, May 2, 2008

Shopping In Buenos Aires - Part 1

With over 12 million people in the metropolitan area, Buenos Aires is a densely populated city whose denizens like to shop, hang out at cafes, go dancing at 2am, and just check each other out. I was amazed by the beauty of the historic murals and the large windows in the touristy Galerias Pacifico mall. The store windows of each retailer use bright colors and well-styled mannequins to display their merchandise, however, upon entering each store, the creative visual merchandising techniques are sorely lacking. Each store tended to be quite small in terms of display space, and often, the clothing is hung on sideways-facing racks and grouped by color, as if it were a tightly organized closet. I found that many times I was drawn into a store by the inspiring window displays and then disappointed by the selection of items as I browsed. Also, there were several instances when I saw an item in the window, and when I inquired about it, I was informed that it was not available. Overall, I bought a lot less than I expected to. My favorite retailers included John Cook, A.Y. Not Dead, Merceria, Lazaro, Sweet, and 47 Street. Mixed into the mass of local chain stores were Lacoste, Tommy Hilfiger, Levi's, and other global brands. The 2001 peso crisis in Argentina has hampered Argentina's ability to import lots of products, and this has resulted in an increase of goods made by local designers. I found this to be particularly true in the area of the city called Palermo Hollywood. Unfortunately, even when you convert pesos to U.S. dollars, most of the goods didn't seem very reasonable. For example, at some boutiques, most dresses were over $150USD, locally made designer jeans started at around $90USD, and most jersey tops at about $60USD. As I shopped, I discovered that with the majority of things, I could find very similar mass-produced items in the U.S. for much better prices. (I probably shop at Forever 21 too much and have become accustomed to paying less then $40 for an article of clothing!) I did buy some of the very popular Rapsodia jeans, which fit like a glove and come in a wide variety of cuts, washes, and colors. The sales staff at Rapsodia was very happy to show me the styles I was looking for, although the high-waisted and wide-leg styles were non existent. Skinnies, low-rise, and ankle zip jeans seem to be the trendiest at Rapsodia at this time.

Since Argentina is south of the equator, the seasons are reversed from North America. Therefore, fall is just getting started in Buenos Aires. Most of the women on the streets wore scarves, fitted sweaters, skinny jeans, and leather boots when the weather was cooler. I noticed that the Fall '07 Balenciaga Palestinian scarf was a strong trend in many stores. With regards to other trends, a store called John Cook carried neon jeans, bold printed tops, and funky jewelry for Argentina's most fashion-forward youth. A.Y. Not Dead was another edgy teen retailer with a small selection of shiny, bright tops and jeans. At 47 Street, Hello Kitty tees, stretchy sweaters, and colorful hoodies rounded out the selection of fun apparel. Ricky Sarkany was my favorite store for shoes because of their bold colors, prints, and styles. There I lusted after hot pink boots, gray suede pumps, and cobalt blue ankle boots with a bow tie. I will post photos of my purchases in the coming days. For now, here are some store window photos from the beginning of my trip.

Below - the murals and large windows at the Galerias Pacifico mall


47 Street window display


47 Street


Below - Ayres


Leather goods at Casa Lopez


Childrenswear at Cheeky


Leather goods at Lazaro


Lazaro


Leather shoes galore at a store on Calle Florida