Buenos Aires

Whether you're looking for a unique handicraft, the latest boutique-vineyard malbec, a one-off pair of rhodochrosite earrings, or jeans no one's got back home, you're bound to leave Buenos Aires with your suitcases full. Argentina’s designers inject their wares with creativity, and innovative items can be found everywhere from elite boutiques to neighborhood street fairs.

If you love the hustle and bustle, elbow your way through the city's outdoor ferias. The array of open-air markets testifies to the fact that locals enjoy stall-trawling as much as visitors do. Crafts—whether traditional or contemporary—often take center stage, with artisans proudly selling their own creations; however, the selection can also include art, antiques, curios, clothing, jewelry, and assorted household goods.

At the other end of the spectrum, this city certainly isn’t lacking in high-end couture. During Fashion Weeks (www.bafweek.com.ar) in February and August, Buenos Aires turns the spotlight on both its world-class designers and its talented up-and-comers. But at any time of year you can swank it up at Patio Bullrich or at posh Recoleta boutiques where the security is as tight as an airport.

Clothing bargains are harder to find than they once were, but that doesn’t mean visitors should pay through the nose. Although haggling isn’t commonplace, do ask for a discount if paying in cash, especially if you decide to snap up leather wrist cuffs for all your cousins at a sidewalk stall. Also look out for the tax refund sticker in many shop windows.

Argentina is cow central, and leather goods—from boots to jackets to polo saddles—are an excellent value. Buenos Aires' well-established antiques trade is also thriving, but modern houseware shops are putting up some fierce competition. On the wine front, many local vintages still aren't exported, so this may be your only chance to try wines from regions other than Mendoza.

It’s not just about retail therapy, either. Part of the Buenos Aires experience can be wandering around and stepping, unexpectedly, into a restored mansion selling silk frocks and vertigo-inducing heels, then taking a break at a bistro or juice bar. People-watching is the name of the game. Known for their good looks, Argentineans like to watch and be watched from the café sidelines.

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  • 1. Pablo Ramírez

    San Telmo | Clothing

    His tiny shop front is unadorned except for "Ramírez" printed on the glass over the door—when you're this big, why say more? Voted Argentina...Read More

  • 2. A.Y. Not Dead

    Palermo Viejo | Clothing

    Rainbow vinyl, fake snakeskin, truckloads of nylon, and faux fur: seen anywhere other than under a strobe light, the clothes here might be hard...Read More

  • 3. Adidas Originals

    Palermo Viejo | Clothing

    This is one of the few Adidas shops in the world to stock limited-edition items, though there may only be one in the shop at any given time...Read More

  • 4. Akiabara

    Clothing

    Slick skinny jeans, pants, and suits attract sharp twenty- and thirty-something women to Akiabara like metal to a magnet. The slinky tops and...Read More

  • 5. Allô Martínez

    Palermo Viejo | Clothing

    Trashy but attractive is the best way to describe Allô Martínez's designs. Skinny satin pants and studded layered tees with plenty of leopard...Read More

  • 6. Autoría Bs As

    Microcentro | Clothing

    Fashion meets art at Autoría Bs As. After browsing the ready-to-wear women's collections by Mariana Dappiano, Min Agostini, and Vero Ivaldi...Read More

  • 7. Ayres

    Clothing

    Fine, strappy tops in bold fuchsia and tangerine tell you that women who wear Ayres don't mind standing out at the bar. For sweeter wallflowers...Read More

  • 8. Balthazar

    Palermo Viejo | Clothing

    Everything a modern gent needs—and plenty he didn't know he wanted—is sold inside this discreet Palermo town house. Find top-notch shirts, suits...Read More

  • 9. Balthazar

    San Telmo | Clothing

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    Erstwhile purveyors of exuberant floral shirts and other metrosexual menswear, Bensimon has prepped up its act. Its new-look garments—think...Read More

  • 11. BlackMamba

    Recoleta | Clothing

    Rarely deviating from the house color (you guessed it, black), the collection here appeals to tough chicks and tougher guys: imagine mohair...Read More

  • 12. Bokura

    Palermo Viejo | Clothing

    Wooden shelving and layers of Persian rugs make Bokura look part general store and part 1,001 nights. Levi's-style jeans are reasonably priced...Read More

  • 13. Bolivia

    Palermo Viejo | Clothing

    Porteño dandies know that Bolivia is the place for metrosexual fashion. Expect floral prints on shirts and leather belts. Aged denim, top...Read More

  • 14. Bolivia

    Palermo | Clothing

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  • 15. Caro Cuore

    Palermo Viejo | Clothing

    Argentina's favorite underwear brand does cute cotton panty and bra sets in bright colors as well as plenty of sexier fare. Although the stuff...Read More

  • 16. Casa López

    Centro | Clothing

    Don't let the drab storefront put you off: you're as likely to find a trouser suit in floral-print suede as a staid handbag for grandma at this...Read More

  • 17. Cecilia Gadea

    Palermo Viejo | Clothing

    The simple, almost stark, cuts Gadea favors are the perfect canvas for riotously pretty texture work—a dress, for instance, might be adorned...Read More

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    Clothing

    Complot. "Ready to Rock!" screams Complot's labels, and the clothes live up to the claim. Teenage rebels and older festivalgoers flock here...Read More

  • 19. Cora Groppo

    Palermo Viejo | Clothing

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  • 20. Cora Groppo

    Recoleta | Clothing

    A queen of the porteño haute-couture scene, Cora Groppo made her name designing flirty cocktail dresses with lots of cleavage and short flared...Read More

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