buenos aires shopping guide

palermo soho

The city's creative epicenter—famed Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges once called it home—has the densest concentration of upstart boutiques, and they sell everything from unusually scented soaps to chunky tunics made of Andean wool.

Calma Chicha

Cowhide rugs are abundant in Argentina—the country's largest industry is ranching—and due to its immense selection, Calma Chicha is the insider-favored spot to buy them (prices start at a reasonable $200). Also on offer: old-fashioned- themed Argentine souvenirs, like vibrant aluminum dishware, hilariously stylized dead-stock tourist postcards, envelope-flat leather gaucho bags, and traditional wine pitchers, perfect for serving the country's best-known varietal, Malbec, to guests.
Honduras 4925, 4831-1818, calmachicha.com

Products: Bags, Linen, Accessories, Books/Stationery, Tabletop
Type of Store: Boutique

Desiderata

For trendy clothes with a vintage look, Desiderata is a sure bet. As if the prices weren't already fair ($40 for a canvas trapeze pea coat, $25 for a pointelle mohair cardigan, $30 for a tweedy plaid jumper), giant, outdoor cartoon-scrawled chalkboards advertise the store's latest specials.
Honduras 4733, 4833-3883, desiderata.com.ar

Products: Women's Clothing
Type of Store: Boutique

Juana de Arco

During the early half of this decade, Argentina's economy was bleak and frugality was key, which gave designer Mariana Cort&eactue;s a brilliant idea: Collect scraps from textile plants and turn them into wearable garments. Today, her Juana de Arco line is famed for its playful, patchworky aesthetic and has made use of tons of cast-off fabric in the process.
El Salvador 4762, 4833-1621, Monday-Fri, 10:30 am - 8 pm, juanadearco.net

Products: Lingerie/Loungewear, Women's Clothing
Type of Store: Boutique

La Mercería

The clothing and decor here is unabashedly colorful, floral-printed, embellished, or in the case of a majority of the merchandise (like an electric blue, ribbon-trimmed, rose-printed floor pillow), all three. If self-customization is more your thing, check out the tons of embroidered ribbon and intricate lace, all of it sold by the meter.
Armenia 1609, 4831-8558, lmerceria.com.ar

Products: Accessories, Linen, Gifts/Design
Type of Store: Boutique

La Pasionaria

Hidden from the street in a hangar-like former photo studio, this antiques shop is way off the tourist path. Owner Pancho Salomón started his business 20 years ago by scavenging the streets and scouring abandoned buildings for collectible pieces. Today, his stellar stockpile of furniture, lamps, and tabletop items—most of which come from the '20s and '30s (and all of which can be shipped to the States)—is a treasured local secret.
Godoy Cruz 1541, 4773-0563

Products: Antique, Decorative, Lighting, Furniture, Tabletop
Type of Store: Consignment, Resale

Lupe

There are so many small designer labels in Buenos Aires; it's impossible to keep them all straight. But Lupe stands out for its charming French-schoolgirl aesthetic (denim jumpers, sailor jerseys, and canvas ballet flats are swift sellers) and its breezy, plant-filled boutique, which has the relaxed atmosphere of a summer cottage.
El Salvador 4657, 4833-0730, lupeba.com.ar

Products: Women's Clothing, Shoes, Accessories
Type of Store: Boutique

Mariano Toledo

Designer Mariano Toledo's trademark is exaggerated, voluminous shapes, be it a balloon-ish tunic, a blouse with enormous bishop sleeves, a heavily gored skirt, or pom-pom-trimmed pumps with extra-chunky heels. His flagship is equally dramatic—the sinuous, all-white space is broken up by cascading curtains of translucent plastic strips.
Armenia 1564, 4831-4861, marianotoledo.com

Products: Women's Clothing
Type of Store: Boutique

Mishka

We lost our minds over the shoes in Buenos Aires. They're unbelievably affordable, invariably made of high-quality leather, and the styles consistently nail the trends. Of all the footwear purveyors, Mishka is our hands-down favorite; right now we're coveting its quilted booties, mummylike wrapped pumps, and candy-colored patent sandals.
El Salvador 4673, 4833-6566

Products: Shoes
Type of Store: Boutique

Papelera Palermo

Set back from the sidewalk behind a rock-landscaped courtyard, this rustic paper-goods store has the feel of an old academic library. Elegant notebooks, photo albums, journals, and memento boxes top room-spanning oak tables, while swaths of fancy wrapping paper drape from dowels lining one wall, and a collection of Latin American-themed art books is crammed into ceiling-high shelves.
Honduras 4945, 4833-3081, papelerapalermo.com.ar

Products: Accessories
Type of Store: Boutique

Sabater Hermanos

A few years back, stylish siblings Eliana, Martin, and Sebastian Sabater took their family's 70-year-old soap business and gave it a serious makeover. They left the old-style manufacturing methods intact, but everything else—from the scents (which now include green tea, cedar, and violet) to the formulations (like inventive wafer-thin soap leaves)—got a thoroughly modern update. Even the store itself has a youthful edge: Retro lab flasks and beakers serve as decor, and old family photos are artfully collaged on the walls.
Gurruchaga 1821, 4833-3004, shnos.com.ar

Products: Beauty
Type of Store: Boutique
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