What to Shop for in Amsterdam

There are plenty of uncomfortable clogs and ceramic windmill tchotchkes to be found in the shops of Amsterdam, but if you're looking for something that strikes a more unique note, for yourself or others, here are some ideas.

Dutch Design

Ever since Gerrit Rietveld produced his Red and Blue Chair, contemporary Dutch Design has been the darling of high-style fans the world over. And designers are now giving old Dutch crafts a much-needed makeover. From Moooi’s iconic collection of Royal Delft vases to United Nude’s classy clogs and Droog’s press-on tattoo inspired by a 17th-century floral still life, there’s a modern souvenir for every budget.

Chocolate

The Dutch have long had an interest in chocolate, starting as far back as the colonization of Suriname with its wealth of cocoa plantations in the 17th century. Today, Amsterdam is the world’s biggest cocoa port, and it's an excellent place to shop for chocolate. Head to one of the city’s noted chocolate boutiques for chocolate bars, bonbons, and hot chocolate.

Sprinkles (Hagelslag)

Spend a few days in Holland and you're bound to be confronted with an interesting breakfast tradition: buttered bread covered with hagelslag (sprinkles, literally "hailstorm"). Chocolate sprinkles are the norm (and the butter is usually unsalted), but you'll also see colored and flavored sprinkles, as well as chocolate shavings. Some people toast their bread first. You'll find a hagelslag aisle in most grocery stores if you want to take some home.

Licorice

Sweet, salty, extra-salty, flavored with jalapeños or anything else they can come up with, the Dutch have a deep and abiding love for drop (licorice). It comes in seemingly endless varieties and shapes, in shops around the city.

Designer Denim

Amsterdam is fast becoming the world’s denim capital, and a number of well-known denim labels are headquartered here—G-Star, Scotch & Soda, Kings of Indigo, Denham, and Kuyichi, to name a few. All that indigo doesn’t come cheap, but there are plenty of places to buy local designer denim, close to the source.

Leatherwear

Amsterdam’s long history of leather making is reflected in many of its street names, like Huidenstraat (hide street) and Looiersgracht (tanner’s canal). Today, style-savvy shoppers can find an excellent assortment of local leather bags and shoes.

Vintage fashions and accessories

Vintage fashion is popular in Amsterdam. Head to the cluster of quaint canal crossings known as The Nine Streets for lovingly restored Rolexes; exclusive vintage handbags by labels such as Chanel, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton; and affordable 1970s bell bottoms and '50s prom dresses. There are also a number of boutiques that do modern renditions of vintage looks.

Tulips

Tulips are practically synonymous with Holland, and it's hard to resist taking photos of the gorgeous flowers, in all their many colors. To take some home, be sure to buy bulbs that are specially packaged, sealed, and marked for transport to the United States; otherwise, they'll be confiscated by customs on your way back into the country. The Bloemenmarkt is a good place to shop, and if you're planning to visit the Keukenhof tulip fields, they have an excellent selection.

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