When you think of fashion capitals of the world, Madrid most likely does not come to mind. We may not be pumping out the trends like New York or Paris, but Madrid is definitely a city of fashion. Take a stroll down Calle Velázquez and you’re sure to feel horribly underdressed in the sea of tailored designer and bespoke jackets, sky-high heels and colorful silk scarves. For a cooler vibe, make your way to Chueca and Malasaña, where the artsy crowd drapes itself in vintage finds, fitted pants and loud jewelry. Though we’re not creating and exporting style quite like Milan, but Madrileños sure know how to dress.
Being surrounded by such fashionable people reminds us that jeans and a t-shirt simply will not do for a night out in the capital, so we hit the shops to build up a new Spanish wardrobe, and noted our favorites to create a helpful little guide to the best shopping in Madrid.
Start your day of shopping in Madrid off in swanky Barrio Salamanca to get some fashion inspiration. The most expensive neighborhood in Madrid, Salamanca is filled to the brim with high end shops like Loewe, Chanel, Gucci, Prada and Christian Louboutin. If your budget allows you to treat yourself, we recommend picking up a Loewe bag. Loewe is a classic Spanish brand that makes beautiful leather products that will last you a life time, and the store on Calle Serrano is worth a visit even if you’re just browsing; their windows are the most elaborate year-round.
For the window shoppers, make an afternoon of peaking into the shops on Serrano, Claudio Coello and Ortega y Gasset, home to the highest fashion in Madrid. If boutique shopping is more your thing, check out Jorge Juan. Arguably the chicest street in Madrid, Jorge Juan is lined with the storefronts of young designers and eclectic boutiques that source their goods from all over the world. Don’t miss the callejón, where you’ll find designer-of-the-moment Isabel Marant (ring the bell to be granted entrance), classic Gant and eye-popping Jocomomola. Don’t let the enviable clothes distract you too much, though; the street-style in this neighborhood provides the perfect representation of Spanish fashion and trends.
Once you’re good and inspired by the designers in Salamanca, head over to Chueca and scavenge the more affordable boutiques to create your own look. Start at Oliphant (Santa Teresa 7) an innovative boutique that sells everything from handmade costume jewelry to the newest dresses from France. The helpful shop girls will be happy to pull things for you, and even tempt you with things you never knew you needed!
Next, head to NAC (Génova 18) to amp up your look for the cold weather with one of their incredible coats, be it faux fur, classic wool or army-style. Don’t forget a bag and scarf for a fun pop of color; NAC stocks designer-style accessories at affordable prices!
End your Chueca shopping trip in Ekseption Stock (Marqués de la Ensenada 2) where you’ll find a drool-worthy collection of shoes, attire for men and women, and even home decoration essentials. On the expensive side, this boutique picks the funkiest designs from the hottest designers, like Charlotte Olympia and Mr. Louboutin, and puts them on display for your delight. We’ve been eyeing a pair of sparkly-soled Lanvin’s for months, but for now we will keep scouring the second-hand’s in Malasaña and praying for rebajas.
Malasaña is a mecca for vintage shops and inexpensive boho looks. We love spending Saturdays on Calle Espiritu Santu, where you’d be hard-pressed to leave without a vintage gem from El Templo de Susu or Corachan y Delgado. One of the best parts about shopping in Madrid is the variety of fashions available, and the vintage shops offer everything you could think of.
In the Mercado de Fuencarral you’ll find tons of shops, both chain and boutique, offering the trendiest clothes at a lower price. Avoid this market on the weekends if you can, it will be packed and impossible to find the styles you’re looking for. Continue up Fuencarral for tons of unique shops ranging from artsy to rastafari to chic and classic!
For a sure thing, head to the center of Madrid. Here you’ll find all the chains that can make all the fashion dreams that the looks in Salamanca, Chueca and Malasaña have conjured, a reality. Take a walk down Gran Vía to Sol, stopping in Zara, H&M, Corte Inglés and Topshop along the way.
We recommend H&M for blouses and sweaters, Zara for accessories, coats and bottoms, Topshop for dressier items and Corte Inglés to fill in the blanks. It takes patience and a good eye, but between vintage and chain stores, it is very possible to recreate the high fashion Madrid look at a low price.
No trip to Madrid is complete without a visit to El Rastro, the Sunday flea market in La Latina. From 9 am to 3 pm every sunday, vendors set up their stalls full of antique jewelry and furniture, art, food, music and clothes. Go early for the best selection, and watch your bag; the crowded market is a favorite hangout for pick-pockets. With some digging you’re sure to find a unique piece to take home with you to remember your time in Madrid.
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