Whether it's a pair of Christian Louboutin leopardskin slingbacks you need or a nice thick cardie, you'll find it in Barcelona's easily strollable shopping streets
While Barcelona has been no more immune to the pressures of globalisation than anywhere else, and you’ll see many familiar high-street names employing increasingly familiar pricing, it still has a redoubtable army of independent retailers, from family-run lingerie shops to up-and-coming designers, dotted about its sidestreets. And quite honestly, even the main drags with their endless parade of global names, from Benetton to Starbucks, are wildly more attractive places to shop than, say, Oxford Street.
Passeig de Gràcia
One such is the Passeig de Gràcia, a wide, attractive shopping boulevard with a smattering of haute couture among the Diesels (no.19; 93 445 83 60), the Mangos (nos.8-10 & 65; 93 412 15 99) and the Zaras (no.16;93 318 76 75). See, for example, Gucci at no.76 (93 416 06 20), Burberry at no.56 (93 215 81 04) or the breathlessly cool Santa Eulalia (no.93; 93 215 06 74), which stocks Stella McCartney, Tom Ford, Lanvin and Miu Miu, among many other designers du moment.
Portal de l’Àngel
Another retail wonderland is the pedestrianised Portal de l’Àngel, which also houses many of the chain stores – Benetton (no.22; 93 301 68 18), Zara (nos.24 & 32-34; 93 301 08 98), Mango (no.7; 93 317 69 85) and what has to be the grandest-looking H&M in the world (no.20-22; 901 120 084) – on its first day they roped off the entrance and had goons in Ray-Bans on the door, though it has to be said that the interior doesn’t quite live up to the neon-lit entrance.
Portal de l’Àngel has an extravaganza of shoe shops – along this stretch and the nearby C/Pelai you’ll find Casas Sabaters (no.40; 93 302 11 12), Royalty (no.36; 93 317 16 32) and Scarpa (no.16; 93 317 39 44), all of which stock local labels such as Camper along with Kickers, Fly and so on. For boots, try Noel Barcelona (C/Pelai 48; 93 317 86 38).
Quirkier fashion and up-and-coming designers
For quirkier fashion and up-and-coming designers, you’re better off foraging in the sidestreets off the Passeig del Born, in the northern section of the Raval and, increasingly, on and around C/Verdi in Gràcia. See, for example, the fresh, colourful and flattering designs at Giménez & Zuazo (C/Elisabets 20, Raval; 93 412 33 81), the bold t-shirts and cutesy frocks at On Land (C/Princesa 25, Born; 93 310 02 11), gorgeous handmade leather bags in rich colours at Capricho de Muñeca (C/Brosoli 1, Born; 93 319 58 91) and bright, funky designs for babies, kids and mums-to-be at Limobebe (Rambla de Prat 9; Gràcia, 902 550 883).
A thriving vintage scene
The Raval is also the centre of the city’s thriving vintage scene, with most shops clustered between the MACBA and C/Hospital. Along the C/Riera Baixa you’ll find Smart & Clean (no.7; 93 441 87 64), for clothes and accessories from the ’60s and ’70s; Billie Jean (no.16; 93 324 84 48), whose retro vibe owes more to the ’80s, and Lailo (no.20; 93 441 37 49), which has a more eclectic selection and some truly gorgeous pieces. For second-hand designer garb, try Le Swing (C/Notariat 3; 93 301 98 70) or Blow (C/Doctor Dou 11, 93 302 36 98).
More expert advice on Barcelona
For suggestions on where to stay in Barcelona, see my Barcelona Hotels – Award winning expert hotel reviews, from cheap to luxury hotels in Barcelona page.