With the extended Eid break approaching and the dirham maintaining its strength, this could be the perfect time to combine a break away with the opportunity to refresh your wardrobe with the new season’s styles. To help with your choice of shopping destination Gulf-based fashion, beauty and travel blogger, Tala Samman from myfashdiary.com, has teamed up with Travelex to compile a top-five list of hot shopping destinations where you can get more ‘fash for your cash’:
- São Paulo – Brazil’s biggest city is huge for original brands
From premium brands to second-hand snips, share in a Paulistano obsession – style. In this bustling city of eleven million inhabitants, São Paulo’s vibrant markets, fashionable shops and myriad shopping malls provide all your shopping needs.
The popular and easily navigable suburb of Higienópolis combines ostentatious Brazilian brands with a smattering of international names. Jardins is often the first name on Brazilians’ lips when they visit the city for a shopping festa. For more casual shopping head to Praça Benedito Calixto for the Saturday market: alternatively Paulista Avenue is a hive of malls and shopping centres to maximise your valuable time in the city.
Tala says: “You can count on the city of São Paulo for colours, bold prints and incredible beach wear. JK Iguatemi is the mall with the most luxurious and substantial range of brands in the city. If you’re looking for a stunning local label, check out the Brazilian fashion store Cia Maritime.”
Tip: Traffic in São Paulo can be among the worst in the world, where you can sit in a jam for over two hours at rush hour. So it’s advisable to stay near to where you plan to do most of your shopping.
The dirham is up 65 per cent against the Brazilian Real compared to twelve months ago, which means you receive an extra BRL1,930 (equivalent to Dh1,975) on every Dh5,000 exchanged.
- Paris – domain of the world’s top designers
The epicentre of fashion, Paris Fashion Week (September 30 – October 7, 2015) boasts the finale of the big four fashion weeks – the pièce de résistance after Milan, London and New York. Held predominantly in the Carrousel du Louvre, Paris Fashion Week largely dictates what the world will be wearing next season.
Tala says: “You can’t go to Paris without walking the dreamy streets of Rue Fauborg Saint Honoré, Avenue Montaigne and Saint Germain. Colette is at the top of my list for every visit – they sell everything from unique accessories and chic clothes to niche beauty brands. Other favorites for luxury fashion are Montaigne Market and Printemps.”
Tip: If going on a substantial spree, the 20% VAT refund you’re entitled to could equate to a sizeable sum. Take the admin out of this by carrying your passport while shopping, asking each merchant to fill out the tax-free form for you and attach your receipt. You can claim your tax refund at a Travelex store and convert into your currency of choice.
The dirham is up by 15 per cent against the euro compared to the same time last year, which means you receive an extra €152 (Dh659) on every Dh5,000 exchanged.
- Melbourne – arguably Australia’s fashion capital
Melbourne is home to a melting pot of new industry talent and established designers. Many people visit the city just for the shopping and its varying fashion styles, ranging from the funky to the more conservative chic in the Paris end of town. Melbourne’s residents are proud of their coffee culture, so let caffeine power you between shopping stints by enjoying some perfect cups from the abundance of ultra-experienced baristas serving high quality coffee.
Tala says: “Australian designers are the hottest at the moment so it’s worth investing in brands like Ellery, Josh Goot and Dion Lee. For boutiques, check out Christine, Cose Ipanema and Assin for impressive buys.”
Tip: Buy a simple map or download an app if you have an internet connection, as Melbourne’s shopping precinct is mainly contained within a convenient grid, bordered by streets: Flinders, Exhibition, La Trobe and Queen, making walking the best way to get around.
The dirham is up 31 per cent per cent against the Australian dollar compared to twelve months ago, which means you will get an extra AU$431 (Dh1,170) on every Dh5,000 exchanged.
- Bangkok – a city of sartorial surprises
Bangkok is a dizzying chaos of sights and smells, tastes and experiences and the shopping is no different. Markets, high-end fashion, bizarre accessories, progressive independent designers and plenty of mega-malls ensure, if you have a well-planned strategy, you can indulge in a bumper shopping spree. Three main malls are Pratunaum, MBK and Siam Paragon but leave time and patience for Khao San Road and Patpong Night-Bazaar, which is well-known for its weird and wonderful fashion.
Tala says: “Thai designers are really having their moment. Shop for bold and brave local brands like Stretsis, Disaya, Milin and EK Thongprasert. Other glamorous pit-stops to enjoy are Flynow and Greyhound Playground.”
Tip: Wear comfortable shoes for the many markets and save a weekend day for Chatuchak Market, also known as JJ, where it’s said there are over 15,000 stores.
The dirham is up by 13 per cent against the Thai Baht compared to last year, which means you receive an extra THB5,277 (Dh557) on every Dh5,000 exchanged.
Helen Deiki from Travelex comments: “Keen shoppers, who choose to shop abroad in destinations where the dirham is strong, will find themselves able to indulge even more in their passion for fashion.”
Tala Samman comments: “There are some incredible shopping opportunities to take advantage of abroad. It’s amazing to think what a difference the strength of the dirham can make to your shopping budget – I’m certainly going to think twice about where to go on my next trip, to make sure I’m shopping wisely.”
For those in a hurry to purchase their currency at a competitive rate, Travelex have stores which are conveniently located in Departures in Sharjah International Airport, Abu Dhabi International Airport and Dubai international Airport.
Travelex is the world’s leading foreign exchange specialist, providing cash and prepaid cards through over 37 million retail transactions each year, utilising a network of up to 1,600 stores and over 1,400 ATMs in 29 countries.
- London – often dubbed the ‘capital of cool’
With luxury goods in Mayfair, quirky finds in Covent Garden and hipster trends in Dalston – London is always a safe bet for a fashion-led shopping city break.
Tala says: “London is home to some of the most talented young designers. For fashion-forward buys, my top shopping destinations are Liberty London, Dover Street Market, Matches and East London’s Start Boutique. A walk through Notting Hill for vintage buys and upcoming brands is a must.
“A trip to London is not complete without a visit to Topshop’s flagship store, situated in Oxford Circus, with a large selection of independent brands in the basement.”
Tip: The tube is the only way to get around the busy streets of London and you will have lots more time to shop or lunch in luxury if you can negotiate the simple London Underground.
The dirham is up five per cent against the British pound compared to 12 months ago, which means you receive an extra GB£42 (equivalent to Dh240) on every Dh5,000 exchanged.
*figures correct as of September 10, 2015.