we've rounded up the 14 most celebrated, and quirky, boutiques in all the world. From cutting-edge brands, impeccably curated book edits, progressive store designs, and a prerequisite in-house cafe; these must-visit destination stores are shopping at its absolute chicest.
1. Merci, Paris
Aside from its pleasingly rhyming name, Merci Paris is a fantastic example of why shopping in the Marais is a bucket-list event. Dedicated to cutting-edge, independent design, it crosses fashion, homeware, and food (we sense a theme emerging here). Vintage furniture, offbeat jewellery, and handmade interiors; you’ll find it all here in the industrial-chic space that was once a wallpaper factory.
2. Bambini, Vienna
Why should grown-ups have all the fun? Bambini in Vienna is surely the most glossy (if not the most gilded) kidswear store around, boasting everything from Young Versace to mini Missoni on its golden rails. A haven for little ones with a not-so-little budget.
3. The Shop At Blubird, London
No trip to Chelsea’s King’s Road, or indeed to London itself, is complete without a stop-in at the affectionately known Bluebird, a clothes-shop-cum-spa-cum-interiors-destination with a café attached to boot. It’s the perfect blend of esoteric discoveries and well-documented must-haves for the discerning urbanite. And, the staff are a joy as well.
4. Coquette, Barcelona
Coquette’s tag line is ‘Born to be beautiful.' If that’s not enough to have you bursting through the doors of its Barcelona-based boutique, we don’t know what is. Dedicated to more affordable, yet just as covetable, contemporary brands such as See by Chloé, Isabel Marant Etoile, and IRO, it offers an unmistakable shot of luxury, but at a slightly more accessible price point.
5. Maria Nilsdotter, Stockholm
In her first standalone store, ultra-hip Scandinavian jewellery designer Maria Nilsdotter has lent her gothic glamour to the environs of her newly opened shop in Stockholm. Atmospheric lighting, taffeta curtains, and an opulent colour scheme all lend themselves to displaying her pieces to optimum effect. Think creeping ivy, spikes, talons, and mystical gems, all with a high-end feel.
6. P&T, Berlin
If the idea of writing without a pot of tea to accompany you seems repellent, then Berlin’s Paper & Tea boutique has your name all over it. Monochromatic, lab-like, and supremely compartmentalised, it places the art and poetry of tea-making on a pedestal. Tassophilia aside, it also honours the great joy that a new notebook brings, with a whole section dedicated to the glory of paper. Simple, yet very effective.
7. RA, Antwerp
Considering its reputation for birthing the Antwerp 6, the group of avant-garde designers who graduated from the Belgian capital’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts in the '80s (quick history lesson — those included are Dries Van Noten, Ann Demeulemeester, and Martin Margiela), Antwerp’s concept stores are bound to be painfully hip. RA comprises straightforward fashion retail, a 50-seat restaurant, an art gallery (which often joins with the restaurant for special performances), and a curated bookstore.
8. 10 Corso Como, Milan
Deservedly one of Europe’s foremost concept stores, this shopping and dining complex was founded in 1990 by gallerist and ex-editor of Italian Vogue’s special issues, Carla Sozzani. Opened in a converted garage within a traditional Milanese palazzo, it sells clothes, yes, but it’s also so much more. A gallery, a bookshop, a garden café — even a boutique hotel of three rooms, it has since opened outposts in Tokyo, Seoul, and Shanghai, and has become the benchmark for cool, progressive shopping the world over.
9. The Broken Arm, Paris
At the heart of The Marais, the most boho of all Parisian arrondissements, you’ll find The Broken Arm, beacon-like in its stark Scandi-esque contrast. Clean lines, slick store design, and minimal interiors bring a touch of Stockholm to Paris’ famously bohemian quarter, and as such, attracts the ridiculously hip and irritatingly creative. Cool contemporary brands such as Kenzo and Carven sit alongside fancy homeware and design books, making it a well-rounded concept store to rival the best of them. The highlight? The adjacent café with its all-day homemade fare; seasonal, fresh and whipped up by the in-house, Le Bristol-trained head chef.
10. The Corner, Berlin
In the market for a Balenciaga Lariat? How about some new-season Christopher Kane camo? Berlin’s The Corner is your go-to destination in that case, its super-slick environs bursting with everything from impossible-to-find Louboutin styles to gotta-have-em Céline handbags. Throw in luxe candles, iPhone cases, art books, and an entire wall (yes, a whole wall) of shoes, and you’ve got your new favourite shop. There are actually two to explore; one in East and one in West Berlin — the East leaning more towards a traditional boutique aesthetic in its monochrome design, and the West being more upbeat and colourful.
11. Storm, Copenhagen
It stocks the cream of urban fashion: Think slogan sweatshirts by Doris, embellished Givenchy skater shoes, and digital-print T-shirts by Noir Noir. There’s also menswear, cult beauty brands, trainers, baseball caps, and hoodies a-go-go. Its website calls it ‘a conceptual platform where commercial and artistic expressions meet and cultural meanings are exchanged.’