concept-store

You don’t need us to tell you that shopping in LondonParisNew York and Tokyo is pretty great. Those who can’t get enough of Scandi minimalism have probably headed north on a fashion pilgrimage to Copenhagen and Stockholm too. But which cities are emerging as the style ones to watch? From São Paulo to Mumbai, we’ve rounded up our favourite fashion cities that may not have been on your shopping list – until now.

1. Antwerp

The international influence of the Antwerp Six (which includes Dries Van Noten and Martin Margiela) has afforded this city the reputation of Belgian’s style capital. The integration of fashion is palpable all over, in an emergence that has catalysed a snowballing of fresh young talent and progressive spaces.

When it comes to shopping, Graanmarkt 13 is your go-to for pretty much everything. With each floor channelling a different aesthetic, established fashion, interior and beauty brands meet their younger, cutting-edge counterparts, with each hand-selected by founders Tim and Ilse. In the city’s Diamant District, Atelier Solar Shop offers an eclectic selection of goods ranging from vintage jewellery and flea market finds to patinated oddments amassed on worldwide travels. The concept is a clear fusion of the owners’, menswear designer Jan-Jan Van Essche and photographer Piëtro Celestina. Located in the city centre on Nationalestraat, STAY is founded by two style-savvy sisters, touting food and fashion in minimalist surroundings.

The brainchild of entrepreneur and designer Ellen Kegals, LN|Knits arrived in Antwerp last year, offering a sustainable outlook and 100% fair trade pieces. Their wool and alpaca knitwear, handmade by Peruvians (who the profits support), is cosy and colourful, with a story as warming as the clothing. Lastly, graduate collections from the talent at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts can be found alongside the Antwerp Six’s past collections at Rosier 41. With daily new arrivals, it’s worth going back a few times. Labels Inc. similarly offers a healthy dose of second-hand chic, though their edgy aesthetic primarily focuses on menswear. Both shops host innovative window installations celebrating the fashion department at the famed design school.

2. São Paulo, Brazil

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With the fifth largest fashion week in the world and numerous communities of international immigrants, São Paulo’s style scene is a celebration of diversity. Despite once being renowned for its expansive malls, an uprising of small independent stores has changed São Paulo’s sartorial scene in recent years.

À La Garçonne, owned by the husband of Brazilian fashion designer Alexandre Herchcovitch, is a 1950s-inspired, high-end second-hand store specialising in antique furniture as well as clothing and accessories. Acaju do Brasil opened its doors in 2016 and has since been drawing crowds of adoring fashionistas. Despite selling a mix of international and local products, Acaju do Brasil favours quality over quantity, with pieces showcased like artwork across the walls and in glass cabinets.

PAIR concept store is almost Scandinavian in its aesthetic, maxing out on black and white to curate “a delicate and daring lifestyle”. The majority of pieces are both genderless and timeless, creating the perfect base for any outfit year round. Across town, it’s easy to spend hours in Clube Chocolate. Extending over three floors and selling everything from motorcycles and crockery to lingerie and flowers, it creates a lifestyle that’s difficult not to internalise and try to recreate at home. Lastly, designer Guilherme Vieira epitomises São Paulo in his brand CLUBE BOSSA, which draws inspiration from bossa nova music, rainforests and Japanese culture to transform it into thoughtfully created swim and resort wear.

3. Kyoto, Japan

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Formerly the Imperial capital of Japan and informally known as “the city of ten thousand shrines”, Kyoto is abound in UNESCO World Heritage Sites, second only to the number found in Rome.

Fingermarks is a small yet profound lifestyle store in the heart of Kyoto revolving around sustainability. With longevity at its heart, this is the place to pick up some carefully restored furniture in a neutral colour palette which will seamlessly slide in to your living space bringing a touch of understated cool.

Arts&Science is a beautiful Japanese clothing brand and shop, and their Kyoto branches are the company’s first outside Tokyo. Founder Sonia Park always said, “I will collect my favourite things and open a shop”. Despite expanding, it’s clear from the moment you walk in that this principle still drives the aesthetic, which feels both eclectic and genuine.

4. Mumbai, India

Asia’s most densely populated metropolis is home to India’s first five-star hotel, railway station, airport and some of the country’s most forward-thinking retail experiences.

Bungalow 8 (not to be confused with the NY nightclub of the same name) is a fashion and lifestyle store that feels more like someone’s home. Run by former YSL and Lanvin designer Mathieu Gugumus Léguillon, Bungalow 8 features its in-house label, The Bungalow, as well as avant-garde brands “that are ethnic, yet unknown”. The space is large and purposefully left blank so that with each season a new story can be built.

Founded by two French women who moved to Mumbai, Le Mill references both Indian and Parisian sartorial heritage. Each brand at Le Mill is hand-picked by Julie Leymarie and Cecilia Morelli Parikh, and for every contemporary Indian piece you’ll find an internationally established counterpart. An eclectic mix of established and budding designers can be found at Atosa, whose mission is to represent “designers with a somewhat alternate sense of aesthetic and something new to offer”.

5. Helsinki, Finland

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Despite Copenhagen and Stockholm monopolising the Nordic fashion scene in recent years, Helsinki is catching up. Showcasing 300 brands, TRE is one of Finland’s more expansive concept stores. Despite offering a wide range of design, cosmetics, furniture and fashion, every product reflects the store’s values — notably sustainability and transparency. About 90% of brands are Finnish and the majority of those are committed to supporting local production.

Intent on dispelling the widely held myth that sustainability is a synonym for compromise, AWAKE carefully curates its brands to feature a constantly changing roster of forward-thinking designers. Items range from interior objects and furniture to accessories and fashion, each typically Scandinavian in style.

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Finland’s unforgiving weather and tricky terrain requires suitably sturdy clothing and footwear. Established in 1916, Karhu use innovative materials in a pursuit of efficient clothing making it the perfect place to stock up on trustworthy athleisure wear. Meanwhile, the products found at COSTO are made entirely from leftover materials, meaning that every item is unique, as well as reasonably priced. Colourful hats, hardwearing bags and gadgets are setting a benchmark for like-minded brands.

Anna Ruohonen stocks White Label and Black Classics (a made-to-measure collection) as well as AR by Anna Ruohonen RTW. The former is all bright colours and experimental shapes; the latter is infinitely more minimal offering seasonless designs with environmental consciousness at its core.

6. Tel Aviv, Israel

Israel’s style capital boasts a growing community of young talent, emerging designers and cutting-edge stores. The city’s communal energy makes shopping there both a cultural and restorative retail experience. Organic and playful designs at Aviva Zilberman always channel a whimsical elegance, but it’s the continually changing window displays that make a stop here particularly worthwhile. For international and local brands, as well as everything from trainers to evening wear, Boutique 5 is your go-to. Verner operates a similar global concept but at a higher price-point, many of the pieces being one of a kind.

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Recognising Tel Aviv’s style as a hybrid of Israeli and international influences, Maya Negri’s designs reflect this diversity. Breezy cotton dresses, linen pullovers and trainers are all staples in her collections, which dress the modern women in exquisite yet comfortable pieces. For the best of Israel’s colourful kilim rugs, Middle Eastern antiques and innovative eateries, Jaffa flea market overflows with goodies – you’ll easily lose hours there. Found just adjacent, Saga offers a markedly different shopping experience in the form of a gallery-cum-store selling only local products. Featuring in excess of 100 designers, it has become a hub showcasing the work of young Israeli creatives.

Roni Bar offers alternative pieces that illustrate the founder’s dynamic urban interpretation of the country’s past and present. Androgynous, minimalist pieces that experiment with shape make for wearable fashion that takes you from day to night in this 24-hour city.

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Finally, Agas & Tamar Jewellery is an eponymous brand founded over 20 years ago by two friends whose Tel Aviv store offers a variety of raw and beautiful pieces collected since the label’s inception. Numerous collaborations (including with Sex and the City: The Movie) have afforded the duo an international reputation as one of today’s most pioneering jewellery brands.

7. Byron Bay, Australia

The force of social media has seen Byron Bay and all of its tech-savvy, salty haired residents gain global recognition for their style. Outside of the major cities, the town has the highest number of people working in creative industries in Australia, and every inch of their aesthetic reflects this — authentic and effortless.

Newrybar Merchants is a curated store from Zane Grier and Todd Miller, who have created a space that seamlessly blends established and emerging brands such as TIGMI TRADING and Fate & Fortune.

Located in Bangalow Village, Our corner Store is perfect for gifts and everyday necessities, packed with idiosyncratic items that simultaneously inspire and amuse. If it’s new clothes you’re after, those at Spell & The Gypsy Collective would make even the most regimented of humans look like a free spirit. Abound in intricate patterns, loose-fit flowing materials and a bright-colour palette, this is the place for fashion that will take you from day to date.

Little Winnie champions organic and natural materials in their sleep and loungewear; selling a small range of other oddities, this should be your number one stop for thoughtful pieces to put on your mantlepiece. Worn Store is an eco-conscious brand that focuses on clothing and furniture. Each item is made to order and can therefore be tailored to your exact size and needs. Made by local hands, it’s a great way to get really stuck in to Byron Bay’s creative scene.

Founded by two sisters in 2013, The Beach People has quickly gained an international following for their collection of round beach towels. Practical and fun, the money from each purchase goes to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

Another inspiring initiative is Pampa. Working directly with artisans in rural Argentina, they offer a wide selection of quality goods in their gallery slash store to celebrate culture and craft – well worth a visit, if only to learn their story.

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