Many of my friends from Singapore make a beeline to Zara to buy clothes when they travel to Spain. Because it is purportedly cheaper to buy Zara items in Spain than in Singapore, especially after getting the tax refunds.
I did exactly that the first time I visited Spain and was in Barcelona for a few days. But I didn’t find it satisfying and it certainly wasn’t interesting as the clothes were almost exactly like what one would find in a Zara store in Singapore. Surely I didn’t travel more than 12 hours just to buy a mass-produced, made-in-China/Morocco/Bangladesh/Portugal piece of fast fashion that I can easily find in Orchard Road, albeit for a few dollars less!
These days, when I get the chance to go to Barcelona and am in the mood for shopping, I would go to the Born district which is in the old town of the city. Here, you can find several boutiques featuring independent Spanish and Catalan designers, as well as ateliers where artisans hone their craft.
On a recent work trip to Barcelona, I managed to squeeze in a quick walkabout in Born. In most of the shops that I entered, I would first be greeted with “Hola,” followed by “our products are by Barcelona designers” or “everything is made in Barcelona.”
As I zipped through the narrow cobblestone streets, I came across several interesting shops and picked up name cards for future reference (see below for recommendations). It was only towards the end that I found something that I like, that was available in my size and within my budget.
Banys Vells @ 19 Carrer del Banys Vells is run by Ainara Pardo and Fran Guerrero who each have their own label. Guerrero’s brand is L’Nena Atelier – I like the fluid, billowy form of his capes, many of which combine the use of vintage textiles with new fabrics. I bought a white cape from him but not before receiving firm assurance from him that it can be readily cleaned in a washing machine (he always put the materials through some form of durability test).
In these photos, I was wearing a secondhand woolen skirt with a cool pocket detail by Belgian designer, Ann Demeulemeester skirt that I found at Les Enfants d’Edouard. This was paired with my favourite pair of Trippen shoes, fence, which comes with a low wedge and slits across the top.
Here are some of the boutiques in El Born that I came across (and like) that promote designers in Barcelona:
Ivori @ 7 Carrer de Mirallers
Opened by Carola Alexandre, the cosy shop focuses on clothes, shoes, handbags and other accessories by Catalan designers including up-and-coming designers such as Rita Row and Paloma Wool (both of which I like for their ‘clean’ forms). It also carries its own label, Ivori.
The Box @ 8 Carrer del Brosoli
Started by three fashion designers Nerea Lurgain, Elena Gallergo and Olga Prat, The Box acts as a showcase for their works as well as those by their fellow Barcelona peers.
La Tercera @ 4 Carrer del Brosoli
La Tercera features clothes from Name: (by Irene Sabaté and Clara Aspachs) and handsewn Lubochka bags (by Olga Dubovik). In addition to these made-in-Barcelona pieces, the shop also sells accessories, shoes and children’s wear by other like-minded designers from abroad who focus on sustainable, local production.
Iriarte Iriarte @ 12 Carrer dels Cotoners
What gorgeous leather bags these two sisters from Argentina make! If only I have deeper pockets…
Nu Sabates @ 14 Carrer dels Cotoners
The main draw in this shoe shop is the unusual yet timeless designs by Cydwoq, which is based in California. While these are not made in Barcelona, I wanted to include Nu Sabates here as the shoes are beautiful. I hear that Cydwoq shoes – which was created by Rafi Balouzian, a trained architect – are incredibly comfortable.
If you have any other recommendations of similar shops in Born (or elsewhere in Barcelona), please share in the Comments section. Muchas gracias in advance!
This post is the second in a short series to showcase fashion apparel and accessories made in Barcelona and/or designed by emerging talents in the city. To see the first article, which featured a Progono backpack, click HERE.