Shoppers, start your engines: The dawn of fall officially means it’s time to start thinking about the holidays. Along with the season’s spirit of family and togetherness, there’s also an undeniable urge to rush to the nearest stores and rack up unsightly credit card bills. This year, head to one of these shoppers’ paradises and have a little fun while you’re getting gifts for others.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Deemed one of the Middle East’s most lavish places to shop, Dubai has its fair share of malls and boutique havens. The Mall of the Emirates, the Villa Moda and the Wafi Shopping Mall (known specially for its dramatic Egyptian décor) are just a few. Choose from hand-made arts and crafts like sheeshas (water pipes) at Al Karama, where bustling markets reel in consumers who know how to haggle. Not in the mood? Pick up designer duds like YSL, Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton at the higher end spots.
New York City, New York, United States
Among many other reasons, New York makes the list for its lengthy list of diverse shopping genres. In one day, go from discovering vintage fabrics and one-of-a-kind pieces in NoLita and SoHo to the high-priced designer fashion of Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue and Tiffany & Co. Find killer knock-offs along Canal Street, but for a more authentic (albeit pricey) experience, check out the original artwork for sale in Chelsea.
For those who love labels, there no place like Paris. An ongoing debate on which is better – the food or the fashion – keeps travellers coming back for more. Find international haute-couture labels along rue du Faubourg St-Honoré and avenue Montaigne in the 8th arrondissement, or check out the Galeries Lafayette and Printemps, which are next to each other on Boulevard Haussmann in the 9th. Looking for something a little more bohemian? Head to the maze of boutiques in Le Marais.
To truly shop in London’s full range of consumer nests, you’d need to spend quite a bit of time in the city – but there are tried and true highlights that we think merit the swipe of your card, regardless of how long you’re there. Portobello Market is perfect for antique shopping and digging for hand-me-downs, Covent Garden offers trendy boutiques in a clustered handful of side streets, and Oxford Street balances that with a straight shot of constant bustle and big businesses like Top Shop (budget friendly takes on trends) and Selfridges, where you’ll find the real designer pieces. For a one-stop shop that’s a tick on your “been there” list, head to Harrods.
From cutting-edge technology to designer boutiques and mega malls, Hong Kong is a serious player in the game of retail. Popular artists like Vivienne Tam, William Tang and Walter Ma fill enormous malls, and the streets of Li Yuen East and West offer street vendors with porcelain vases, silk garments and Chinese artworks at Stanley Market. Stroll through the Jade Market in Yau Ma Tai for traditional jewellry that represents good health and fortune.
Italy’s fashion capital is unsurprisingly the country’s biggest shopping centre. A surefire first stop should be Via Montenapoleone or Via della Spiga, where you’ll find both boutiques and outlets (think: 50 per cent off designers like Marni and Prada). If antiques and consignment are more your style, then head for the comprehensive street markets.
Fashion plates like Gwen Stefani and Marc Jacobs capitalize on the up-and-coming artistic spirit of Japan, and Tokyo is the centre of its retail buzz. The modern metropolis is ground zero for emerging designers to flex their muscles, which you’ll find anywhere from flea markets to boutiques. For more traditional Japanese items, street vendors are your best bet.
For shoppers who celebrate Christmas and want an old-world spin on their season’s preparation, head to a market that sells everything from roasted almonds to nativity sets. Travel to Salzburg for the Christkindelmärkt, which opens five weeks before Christmas. Enjoy hot chestnuts, mulled wine, gingerbread hearts and other specialties while you meander through the stalls of Dom and Residenz Squares. It’s not a red carpet event, but it certainly works for getting in the spirit.
Europe’s largest indoor Christmas market is hosted in Zurich’s main railway station. Walk up Bahnhofstrasse, the kilometre-long stretch that glitters with 20,640 Christmas lights and see the tree illuminated with more than 5,000 crystal ornaments. Shopping and festivities start on November 25th.
Los Angeles, California, United States
Tabloids catch socialites shopping on Rodeo Drive on a daily basis, but most likely, they won’t bother you (unless you’re a celebrity. Then, forget it.) High-end paths like Melrose Avenue are complimented by downtown’s Santee Alley, where you can score affordable knock-offs, and the outdoor shopping plazas like The Grove, provide more approachable brands. For a taste of interesting west coast boutiques, walk along the pedestrian-only Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica.
Featured image: Sharon Hahn Darlin