Buenos Aires Feature

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Life Before Malls

No shopping trip is complete without browsing one of the city's many galerías. These quirky shopping arcades are the precursors of malls and were mostly built in the 1960s and '70s. Their boxy architecture often includes gloriously kitsch touches, and the unpredictable retail offerings of their small stores could include designer gear, no-name brands, used books, sex toys, cigars and pipes, tattoos, imported vinyl records, and other wonders. Though many galerías have closed down, they're still thick on the ground along Avenida Santa Fe (800 to 1500) and Avenida Cabildo (1500 to 2200).

Galería Bond Street. A prerequisite cool hangout with teenagers and clubbers alike is Galería Bond Street. Downstairs stores sell club wear, punky T-shirts, and band pins. The top floor has the slightly classier pickings of local designers who aren't big enough to move to Palermo, while those with the urge for a tattoo can take their pick from a large selection of ground floor studios. Av. Santa Fe 1607, Barrio Norte, Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, C1060ABC. 11/4812-8744. www.xbondstreet.com.ar.

Galería Quinta Avenida. Vintage vultures should swing by the Galería Quinta Avenida, which has a host of dusty boutiques ideal for a few hours of rack-roaming. There's a particularly good selection of leather jackets, as well as accessories like specs from the 1950s and '60s. Av. Santa Fe 1270, Recoleta, Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, C1059ABT. 11/4816-0451.

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