I’m not quite joining shopaholics anonymous, but it’s common knowledge that I like to shop. I’m pretty value-oriented rather than frivolous when it comes to my purchases, so fortunately things don’t get too out of hand. Finite amounts of luggage space and David’s patience also kept my consumerism under control, but I definately hit some lovely shops in Barcelona and have a few good spoils to show for it.
La Manual Alpargatera was right at the top of my to-do list. My shoe collection is well over 300 pairs, so you could call me a shoe freak- and you’d be dead on. Coupled with my dedication to shopping local and supporting traditional artisans, I might have gone a little espadrille crazy.
We arrived right as they were reopening after siesta, and a small crowd had gathered. You receive a number upon entrance and select your styles, so you can specify sizes and colors when they call you. I was purchasing multiple pairs in an assortment of sizes and styles, and was very impressed with the attentive and patient service despite the waiting queue. I scored several colors of traditional espadrilles for myself, as well as for friends and family, and was a big fan of the lace-up style David chose.
But when I saw the glimmery muted gold sequins, I was sold. ? On two pairs, technically- needed to hook my bestie up too! And remember that espadrilles are made with natural fibers and will stretch, so don’t size up if they are snug while shopping.
We have Desigual here in the States- standalone stores and randomly in some airports. I’ve shopped there before, but the stores and selection are significantly larger within Spain. I like their funky styling, but I just looove their ad campaign with Winnie Harlow. For the unfamiliar, she’s an African American model with an advanced case of vitiligo. She is astoundingly gorgeous, and beyond inspirational when it comes to loving the skin you’re in. I loved seeing her fierceness all over the city- sometimes typical can just be boring. I will say that I find it disconcerting that Winnie anchors the Euro ads, but isn’t featured here in the US. Wish she was- she’s beautiful, and anything but basic.
We also wandered in and out of shops along our walks. While some shops were annoyingly touristy, I came across a bunch of little gems. There’s lots of great shopping in el Born- part of the reason we chose it as our home base. Carrer de Montecada wound up being one of our beaten paths, because it combined convenience with good shops and great people watching. We came across the most amusing puppeteer, and spent a little time enjoying the show.
Art Escudellers was recommended for having quality Spanish crafts and artwork, rather than the more chintzy stuff sold in every other storefront. I lusted over incredible hand-blown glassware and admired gorgeous ceramic serving dishes and the most intricate mosiacs. I took home a pretty hand-painted Star of David round with gold accents, thinking it would be perfect for the holidays.
El Coral is just a little nook, but don’t be fooled- it is home to some gorgeous artisan jewelry. Lots of local raw materials, like coral, pearls and other stones, all at some seriously amazing prices. I contemplated an incredible branch coral statement necklace, as well as a strand of amber-colored pearls, but decided to keep it simple with a new pair of white pearl studs. Classic and classy, they remind me of Barcelona every time I wear them, which is often.
Ale-hop is an inexpensive little chain, full of gems mixed in with the junk. I picked up a few scarves and some costume jewelry there, postcards and a few kitschy souvenirs, like a miniature snow globe for my niece’s collection. I think my favorite purchases were a Dali-inspired melting clock for our bedroom bookshelf, and quirky white sunnies. I actually bought them, managed to crush them in Paris, and went back for a replacement pair when we returned to Barcelona. They’re nothing fancy- I think I paid a whopping five euro- but I think they’re fun!
I also hit up Mango, Boo, Stradivarius, Boohoo and the other Spanish high street heavy hitters. I checked out Le Swing and Blow to see how the Spanish did vintage, and eyed the most gorgeous lacy bits at TCN. I like my souvenirs to be wearable, edible, or memorable- I want to feel like I’ve taken a city home with me. I was pleased with my packages- lots of good stuff, no touristy junk- my choices were purposeful and pretty.
Except for not getting to bring home a ham from la Boqueria– still sad/mad/hangry about that.