The Most Underrated Shopping Cities in Europe
These under-the-radar style capitals are giving Paris and Milan a run for their money.
Belgium’s second-largest city punches way above its weight—and it has much to do with Antwerp's Royal Academy of Fine Arts. The institution's fashion program, one of the most prestigious in the world, launched the careers of Dries van Noten, Ann Demeulemeester and the four other members of the so-called Antwerp Six, a group of young designers who, in the mid-80s, put the city’s fashion scene on the map. At the boutiques that line Kammenstraat, a bustling street in the Fashion District, shop the impeccably cut, avant-garde styles for which the city is best known. At the clean-lined store Step by Step, browse threads by in-demand designers such as Isabel Marant and Vanessa Bruno. Then pop over to STAY to stock up on European labels (Norr, Second Female) and grab a cappuccino at the store’s coffee bar. The area is also home to higher-learning institutions like the Fashion Museum (MoMu), where you can learn about the evolution of the trench coat and browse the library’s collection of more than 15,000 books.
Elevated knitwear brand House of Dagmar and trendy “up-cycling” label Rave Review are just a few of the brands injecting new energy into Stockholm’s already-hot fashion scene. And with the popularity of Swedish fashion bloggers like Kenza Zouiten Subosic and Caroline Blomst, Stockholm’s distinctive style has gone global. To shop the city’s coolest styles, head to Södermalm, an urban island where you'll find fashion-forward boutiques, eclectic interior design stores, and funky jewelry shops. We especially love Filippa K Second Hand, which is stocked gently-loved pieces from the beloved Swedish fashion brand, and Lisa Larson, an expertly edited vintage store that’s been serving the city’s best-dressed for over two decades.
Russian designers are commanding worldwide attention with their youthful, eccentric aesthetic and androgynous silhouettes. And Moscow—with its inimitable street style, flourishing cultural landscape, and trailblazing talent (think designers Anastasia Dokuchaeva and Roma Uvarov)—is poised for fashion-world domination. To shop one-of-a-kind looks by some of these stylish newcomers, visit Khokhlovka Original, a tiny co-op concealed behind a graffiti-covered courtyard, and INDEXflat, a boutique that carries designers from all over Eastern Europe. A few of our other favorite spots: Flacon, a shopping center set inside an abandoned glassworks factory; and GUM, one of the largest and most lavish department stores in the world, conveniently located across from the Red Square.
If you’re a denim lover, Amsterdam is the place to get your fix. The city is home to Jean School, the world’s only institution dedicated entirely to the fabric. And every fall, the annual Denim Days Festival comes to town, bringing together makers, designers, and everyday enthusiasts. If you want to bring home a great pair, consider born-in-Amsterdam labels like G-Star Raw, Scotch & Soda, and Kings of Indigo. The Dutch capital is also making a name for itself as a high-fashion hub. Case in point: more than 100 fashion houses — Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, and Karl Lagerfeld, to name a few — have set up headquarters in the city. Beyond the popular shopping district known as the Nine Streets, the Haarlemmerstraat and Haarlemmerdijk streets draw a style-minded crowd with their flea markets, designer shops, and concept stores. Don’t miss Salt Water, a one-stop shop selling minimalist fashions and hip home wares.
Despite producing big names such as Helmut Lang, Vienna’s fashion industry often slips under the radar. That's bound to change now that a new guard of young designers have broken onto the scene. (We specifically have our eye on Christina Steiner, the visionary behind womenswear label GON, who studied under Raf Simons and Veronique Branquinho at the University of Applied Arts Vienna.) Upscale boutiques and trendy thrift stores are scattered along the gritty backstreets of Neubau, a neighborhood that has drawn comparisons to Berlin’s trendy Friedrichshain district. On your hit list: Kaufhaus Wall, where you can shop fashion from Yohji Yamamoto and jewelry from Saskia Diez; Burgasse24, a vintage store featuring designer archive pieces; and Eigensinnig Wien, a photography gallery cum clothing store.