Like most cities around the world, Barcelona has been affected by that plague of globalization that reproduces the same businesses everywhere: the same luxury brands, the familiar franchises, the well-known fast-food restaurants, the expected advertising in the center of every city.
Nonetheless, Barcelona has been able to keep some of its oldest, most vaunted independent shops alive—while also adding some new ones with remarkable personalities to the city’s shopping landscape. Some of the older stores are struggling now in today's 2.0 society, so the newer arrivals, learning from this, are relying on design, good marketing, and a different approach to selling, focused mostly on local customers. The selection below offers some of the finest and most unique places to shop in town: the establishments that combine ambience (some of these places have been around for 150 years), style, and a fine selection of goods that will please shoppers and browsers alike.
My first recommendation is for those who wish to see the real state of fashion in Barcelona. This shop (which opened in 1843—before the advent of brands like Louis Vuitton or Goyard) is the most classic and important boutique in the history of Barcelona. It has managed to stay that way thanks to an incredible capacity for adaptation, and a delicious selection of clothes that include many local brands (the label named after the shop, Santa Eulalia, is unbelievable in terms of quality). The shop itself is a piece of art; a visit here is a definite must.
This is one of my favorite shops in town. The owner, Jaime Beriestain, is a fabulous designer and his Barcelona headquarters is this restaurant that also includes a furniture shop, a bookshop, a bakery, and a flower shop. It is so exquisite that you can arrive in the morning, grab a chair, browse, buy, and finish your day off with a fine dinner—all without ever leaving the premises.
This concept is so strange (an art supermarket) that it is unique to Barcelona. The store carries forks, knives, spoons, blankets, lights, paintings, t-shirts, toys, puppets, jewels, sheets and just about everything else you can imagine; wandering its two floors, you may feel the curious need to buy things you didn’t even know existed.
Murt is one the most famous fashion designers in Barcelona, and her shops are a good place to purchase something local and elegant at the same time. Murt is known for her beautiful dresses, excellent use of patterns, and high-quality materials that guarantee a long and prosperous life for your purchases.
There’s no lingerie (or underwear, all for women) in Barcelona that compares to what they make at TCN. Its designer, Toton Comella, is a legend whose work has been featured on the catwalks of NYC and Paris, and whose Barcelona shops sell the best of her collections. Seeing and trying on her high-quality garments make a visit worthwhile—but you should also check her website if you visit Barcelona in January, since the discounts then can be huge.