By Stephanie Rivoal, courtesy Paris Tourist Office
Published April 01, 2014
If a city has been around and thriving for nearly 2,000 years, you know it has a way of getting people to happily spend money, and London is no exception.
Though the British are not always known for their style, London is an international capital that stocks the top brands from near and far. Like Paris, London’s chief department store, Harrod’s, deserves a visit for its showmanship and as the perfect place for a bite between purchases. The tearoom is as known for its elegance as its delicious, never-ending scones.
Despite London’s frequent drizzles, some of the city’s best shopping is found outdoors in its open-air markets. Locals frequent Portabello Road for antiques, food, handicrafts and clothes. The newer Spitalfields Market is one of the top places to find local up-and-coming designers.
As the U.K. base for designers, London hosts frequent sample sales to get designer goods to fashionistas at steep discounts. They’re not advertised well in advance but make a unique addition to any itinerary. Check a week or two beforehand to find out if there are any going on during your visit.
It’s no surprise that most shopping districts in Tokyo, one of the most densely populated cities in the world, are overwhelming at best and chaotic on most occasions.
For a comparatively calm route through Japan’s best native brands and top international imports, tour the exclusive Ginza neighborhood over the weekend, when the main street becomes pedestrianized. If you’re up to fighting Japanese fashionistas to the latest hot spots, head to Omoteando Hills in the Harajuku neighborhood or the Kitakore Mall on the outskirts of town.
But while Tokyo’s high-end shopping is a draw, this city is the place to go for incredible Japanese handicrafts the likes — and prices — of which you’ll not find anywhere else. The Kappabashi area is the place to shop for cooking supplies, including hand-painted ceramics, at restaurant prices.
Keep an eye out for one “souvenir” in particular: used silk kimonos. Like wedding dresses, many ornate, elaborately embroidered kimonos essentially lose their value to their Japanese owners after one wearing. Pick one up for as little as a 10th of the original price.