Shopping for high-end clothes, jewellery, and housewares in Istanbul’s malls and on its high streets
Istanbul's market culture is turning into a mall culture at a rapid pace, with more than 40 modern shopping centres opening over the past two decades or so. While some, such as Cevahir in Şişli -- at one point Europe's largest mall -- appeal to a more middle-class crowd, many are stuffed with luxury goods from the best-known international brands. Local designers catering to the same clientele are scattered throughout the chic Nişantaşı district northeast of Taksim Square, while Asian-side shoppers can find the same types of stores that fill the upscale malls along Bağdat Caddesi, a 6km tree-lined high street with lots of cafés and restaurants.
Its combination of size, convenience, and offerings make Kanyon (www.kanyon.com.tr) one of Istanbul's most popular malls. Located right on the Metro line at the Levent stop, it boasts good restaurants, striking architecture, a plush cinema, and a high-end gym. Its 170 boutique-style stores include Camper shoes, the Body Shop, well-regarded local housewares chain Paşabahçe (www.pasabahce.com), and the Turkish clothing and cosmetics store Vakko (www.vakko.com.tr), best-known for its scarves and ties.
Once the city's most stylish mall, Akmerkez (www.akmerkez.com.tr) is looking a little dated these days, but still draws shoppers to stores such as Derimod (www.derimod.com.tr), a purveyor of high-quality leather coats, and the popular Turkish department store Beymen (www.beymen.com), which stocks both international and house brands of designer men's and women's clothing and accessories.
Globally known luxury brands such as Ralph Lauren, Fendi, and De Beers fill İstinye Park (www.istinyepark.com), one of the city's newer malls. It holds some local shops too, such as the quirky housewares store Continuum (www.continuum.com.tr). The shopping centre is also popular for its high-end "food court" and gourmet market, where stores such as Taze (www.ta-ze.com.tr) sell top-quality olive oil and other gastronomical treats.
The latest fashions in Nişantaşı
The upscale Nişantaşı/Teşvikiye area has outlets of many of the same high-end brands as the city's top malls, but also provides a home for smaller fashion and design shops making equally luxurious goods. Abdi İpekçi Caddesi is the district's big high street. The upmarket City's Nişantaşı mall (www.citysnisantasi.com) hosts the likes of Louis Vuitton and Dolce&Gabana.
Designer Gönül Paksoy (Atiye Sokak No. 6A) draws from Ottoman influences to create unique coats, slippers, and purses from hand-dyed fabrics, while neighbour Arzu Kaprol's (www.arzukaprol.net, Atiye Sokak No. 9) ready-wear lines exhibit the same striking use of structure and texture as her couture collection. The dresses of Elif Cığızoğlu (www.elifcigizoglu.com, Teşvikiye Caddesi Alhambra Apt. No. 178/3) combine a bold colour palette with deconstructed shapes. Cassette (www.cassette.com.tr, Ihlamur Yolu Sokak No. 12/A) carries a more street-wise mix of precariously high-heeled boots, flowing dresses, and vintage-inspired jewellery. Sporting a similar attitude, Midnight Express (www.midnightexpress.com.tr, Kadırgalar Caddesi Açık Hava Apt. No. 8/3) features unique and funky pieces by Turkish designers, from T-shirts to party dresses. Inner and outer wear are well-represented in the neighbourhood by lingerie designer İpek Kıramer (www.ipekkiramer.com, Abdi İpekçı Caddesi No. 47/3) and the high-quality leather, suede, and fur goods at Koç Deri (www.kocderi.com, Atiye Sokak No. 1).
Nişantaşı is also a popular destination for jewellery shoppers looking for something a bit more up-to-date than the bazaar offerings. A good place to start is SODA Istanbul (www.sodaistanbul.com, Şakayık Sokak No. 37/1), which sells art jewellery from a variety of innovative designers. Sema Paksoy (Atiye Sokak No. 9) crafts new pieces from antique silver and semiprecious stones, while the metal jewellery at Zeckie (www.zeckie.com, Ihlamur Yolu Değer Apt. No. 16/C) comes in shapes both abstract and playful. Can't find anything you like? Alef (www.alefgaleri.com, Hacı Emin Efendi Sokak No. 4) offers workshops where customers can learn to design their own jewellery.
The addresistanbul (www.addresistanbul.com) shopping centre in nearby Şişli specializes in home design, including the modern takes on traditional Turkish motifs provided by Maybe Design (www.maybedesign.at). Yastık By Rıfat Özbek (www.yastikbyrifatozbek.com, Şakayık Sokak Olcay Apt. No. 13/1) specializes in pillows and cushions in eclectic patterns, while Haremlique (www.haremlique.com, Şair Nedim Bey Caddesi No. 1) in Beşiktaş' posh Akaretler area offers a full range of luxury linens plus other pampering goods for the bedroom and bath.
More expert advice on Istanbul
For suggestions on where to stay in Istanbul, see my Istanbul Hotels – Award winning expert hotel reviews, from cheap to luxury hotels in Istanbul page.
Read my shopping overview on my Shopping in Istanbul page.