Tours: Shopping, No Dropping
By OUTTraveler Editors
We’ve always looked to the continent when it comes to style. And with these six Gay Greats, being able to say, “Oh, this little thing? I got it in Europe” is that much easier.
Start your shopping adventure in Stockholm, where its department stores can satisfy any Swedish style cravings (and we don't mean Ikea or H&M). For au courant designs you're likely to see on the lithe locals, P.U.B. has all the biggies over three floors: Acne, Tiger, Whyred, Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair, GANT. It might be the oldest department store in town—since 1882; Greta Garbo sold hats here in the 1920s—but it's also the most avant-garde. Upscales shoppers with a penchant for more international brands (Mulberry, McQueen, Hermes, etc.) will find much to love in NK, including micro-stores by Stockholm Design House and Bookbinders Design, plus a food hall when you've got the swoons. Hipsters hail mary direct to Sodermalm, where SoFo (South of Folkungagatan) is an essential pilgrimage for cool types who like rad gadgets and vintage fashion and strutting it all in the dive bars afterwards. If you need some bling to compliment your finds from Grandpa and Beyond Retro, head back towards Gamla Stan for the bold masculine designs by Efva Attling.
Rivaling Sweden with fashion flash, Antwerp continues to roil with a creative energy that rewards the more adventurous shopper. Pay respects to the man that put the city on the map with his eccentric, colorful designs (and amazing window displays) at Het Modelpalais, the Dries Van Noten flagship, and then head over to RA concept store to discover incredible on-the-rise talent that's taken up the torch. To see how a designer lives, follow in the footsteps of Tim Van Steenbergen with his own picks of the city. Should you need to suit up—and at these prices you should—Café Costume offers impeccable custom tailoring ordered as if it was a fine meal; shoes from Coccodrillo are a necessity for completing the look (though warning, you'll need the money you saved for the splurge). Fill the closet of your mind at 't Verschil, a rare treat in the rapidly-dwindling gay and lesbian bookshop world. And fill your cocoa quota (this is Belgium) at The Chocolate Line where self-proclaimed "Shock-o-latier" Dominique Persoone unveils un-PC products like his Chocolate Shooter Kits and cocoa snuff, plus sumptuous ingredient combinations like saffron and lemongrass.
Continue your spending journey to “poor but sexy” Berlin, a Euro wunderland that's perfect for fashionistas both on and off a budget. Let Dykorn, the self-proclaimed brand “for beautiful people”, be your first stop with its über-stylish menswear from denim to jackets and shirts right down to socks. Move on to the up-and-coming talent of Berlin’s aspiring right-brained minds at Berlinomat where DIY-inspired accessories such as cement table wear from BentonWare, or street art books and other artifacts scream Berlin Kultur. Or tap global streetwear kings—Duderon, Banuq, Nudie, et. al—new at Kreuzberg's Akeef or lightly used at Goo in Prenzlauer Berg, where Comme des Garçons, Y-3 and Helmut Lang join the mix. To view or perhaps buy some noteworthy culture head to the Me Collectors Room where you can stroll through crazily curated exhibitions mashing up pieces from the 16th Century to modern day. Exit through the gift shop to pick up exclusive limited-editions from the art on view. And if after laying your head at Karim Rashid's hotel fever dream, the nHow Berlin, you want your own Clockwork Orange-y uniforms, Dandy of the Grotesque can fulfill all your steampunk sartorial fantasies.
Up in Copenhagen, the insane concentration of killer design might be one of the reasons the Danes are amongst the happiest peeps on the planet. Begin the spree with some second-hand browsing in the Latin Quarter, a favorite haunt of local fashion star David Andersen. The 17th-century 'hood bustles with students—it's named after the University where Latin uesed to be spoken—and shoppers and plenty of creative energy. See Andersen's inspiration in action and suit up in sexy minimalism at his atelier on the famous Læderstræde. More clothing, Pede & Stoffer and Wood Wood have brand lists that runs from Acne to Opening Ceremony with lesser known but equally fab local designers like Han Kjøbenhavn, Henrik Vibskov, and S.N.S. Herning. Next, head to Normann Copenhagen. Located in a refurbished cinema, 18,000 square-feet of sublime homeware collections with have you browsing for hours. But if it's true local craftsmanship you desire, check the online network at CPHmade or head straight to Designer Zoo where eight artisans have onsite workshops with an additional 15-20 invited to peddle their wares. Feel free to feed the beasts! With a purchase...
Get your francs ready for Zürich, where you can shop with a view and enjoy a city bursting with international charisma. After an extensive renovation, the abandoned railway arches of the Viadukt Mall offer an indie, upscale experience. Shop No.29 (Fashionslave) for quality menswear from Raf Simons and newcomers like Patrick Mohr. For lunch, head to Markthalle, which offers specialties from the Zurich region and associated farmers market hall. Afterwards, rest off that food coma at Bogen 33, famous for retro furniture from the 20th century. Most objects are probably too large to be taken home by plane but there are small gems, like fancy lamps in the shapes of letters. If you’ve started to miss Poochy, Andys Tierhüsli in the vibrant Kreis 4 offers crazy things like tail-wagglers, high-end raincoats, and non-alcoholic beer for your four-legged children back home. And if you're a newly admitted addict to the Alpine lifestyle, Alprausch offers chalet chic (think taxidermy deer, stacks of wood) options both in snow and streetwear. Their interpretation of “Switzerland” in a young and trendy way, much like hipster accessory superstars Freitag, epitomizes the spirit of the city's newest slogan: Swiss Made. World Class.
Finish off your shopping adventure in Amsterdam and let your euros do the talking at Moooi (translation: “beauuutiful”) where cutting-edge, often over-the-top and in-your-face design, such as their iconic horse-shaped lamp, bursts at the seams. Afterwards, jump on a bike (the only way to travel in the ‘Dam) and pedal your way to Frozen Fountain, a spacious canal-side gallery that has championed the best contemporary Dutch designers for more than 25 years. Also rife with history, the family-owned Floris van Bommel Boutique—under the guidance of Front man, designer, and bachelor middle son, Floris—offers pairs of classic, modern and refined leather or canvas sneakers, a tweak on traditional cobbling for the modern age. If its vintage that inspires, Bij Ons is one of the best in the city, offering really eccentric pieces for next to nothing in their 2-euro bin. No shopping trip to Amsterdam would be complete without an amble through the Jordaan—particularly the eclectic cabinet of curiosities that is The Otherist—and nearby 9 Streets, where blocks upon blocks of Dutch fashion shops and upstart pop ups lay side-by-side with vintage stores. Snag some luxe leather travel cases from Domino. Because it's never too early to start preparing for your next shopping saga.