Holiday hunter gatherers

From Brick Lane to Istanbul’s bazaars, we hear about the best bargains to bring home from your holidays

Sat, Jul 5, 2014, 01:01

Travel broadens the mind – and expands the suitcase if you’re one of those people who likes to forage for the rare and unusual on holiday. Handmade cosmetics, vintage pieces from edgy little boutiques down side streets, or oils and spices you won’t get at home are, for some, the things that will make their break. From antique markets in far-flung Italian villages to Parisian pharmacies or bazaars in Istanbul, we ask the people in the know for their holiday shopping secrets.

JSinead Burke
Style blogger at 

With the aid of the internet, the global retail market has become rapidly smaller – both figuratively and literally. Writing this from Morocco, both the streets and the mountains are lined with locals and nomads attempting to sell you “D’huile D’argon” in various quantities.

Several years ago, this part of the world was the sole trader of argon oil,but today it’s possible that you may come across a similar product whilst meandering through your local health shop. Is it as authentic? I’m not quite sure. However, the one thing I constantly yearn for while away is experience – in particular, those which are just not possible in Ireland.

This week, I had the great fortune to travel on the back of a camel through the Merzouga desert. I slept underneath the stars and ate the most delicious traditional meals. Watching the sun rise and set in the middle of the desert, is an incredible experience and something I would travel for, again and again.

GKate Coleman
Editor, Le Cool

I love the vintage market in Sarzana on Sundays. Versace was a fan of this market, on the border between Liguria, Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna. You will find a huge range of vintage wares from furniture to books and, my favourite, vintage earrings.

HCourtney Smith

New York stole my heart many years ago as my top shopping destination. I suppose it seems like the obvious answer, but it’s not Macys or Century 21 or even the massive designer outlets that I visit, and I don’t even come back with suitcases full of cheap “bargains”.

When I go to New York it’s the hidden little gems that I adore. One of my all-time favourite vintage stores is What Goes Around Comes Around on West Broadway. It’s not that you can’t find killer vintage in Ireland, you can, but places such as What Goes Around Comes Around are on a whole different level. It’s a little bit pricier than most vintage shops, but you will find pieces here that will become wardrobe investments for life, pieces you can pass down to your children and grandchildren.

Another must-visit of mine is Legacy on Thompson Street. I once found a vintage Missoni maxi dress from the 1970s there. Not only are the clothes amazing, so are the stories that the owner Rita tells you. It’s all about the small touches, the shopping experience and the smell and feel of a place, as much as it is what you leave with.

Another thing New York does best is consignment stores. We have a couple in Ireland, notably Siopella in Temple Bar, but it’s still quite a new concept here, whereas places such as Second Time Around and Ina on Thompson Street are long established and even have top fashion houses giving them last season’s catwalk cast-offs. I managed to nab a pair of the DKNY boots that were sold out everywhere else.

To embrace New York shopping at it’s finest, avoid the shopping malls. Check out the markets in Brooklyn, the small streets of East and West Villages, Nolita and beyond and I promise you will find something a little more interesting than the norm.

FJennie McGinn
Founder of Opsh

I went to Istanbul last February for a week. I decided not to study a thing about the city beforehand and just go with the flow. And that’s the way to do it. Istanbul is the conduit between Asia and Europe and explodes with history, culture, people and noise.

There are the historical landmarks you must do – a Bosphorus River cruise, a visit to the stunning Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace. But the real beauty of Istanbul is meandering. Visit the Grand Bazaar, fuel yourself with Turkish coffee and get ready to haggle for top-quality designer knock-offs. Meander around the winding streets of Cukurcuma where antique shops and edgy little boutiques wrestle for attention. If you are a flea-market enthusiast, this is the district for you.

One of my favourite finds was the Atölye Mariposa boutique in the arty Cihangir district. It’s an eclectic mix of antiques and Alice-in-Wonderland fantasy, and the interiors alone justify a visit. To finish off a day of exploring, Istanbul offers nightlife that rivals Paris, Berlin and London. All sorts of cool and unusual bars have popped up across the city, but we fell in love with Susam Café – the gorgeous, leafy terrace is a great place to sit down with a cocktail and admire all your purchases.

DJames Kavanagh
PR executive, Thinkhouse & Church 

New York: Beacon’s Closet in Brooklyn, New York, is an unreal treasure chest. You will not leave empty handed. I was obsessed with platform shoes so I got a pair made in East Village Shoe Repair, it’s run by a man called Boris. The shop is filled to the ceiling with shoes. I brought a pair of Converse in to him and he slapped rubber soles on them for $60. I was so happy – and tall.

Berlin: Garage in Schöneberg, Berlin, is a massive shop where you buy clothes by the kilo. It’s brilliant for a bulk buy, if you don’t have much cash. There is a lot of trash, but you’ll get great gems if you stick with it. XVII is also good for vintage designer. If you want to dance, Chantal’s House of Shame is a no-brainer. It’s the kind of place you’ll just have to accept the fact you’re being grinded on by a man dressed in S&M holding a friend on a leash. It’s a hoot. If you’re hungry for a burger, go no further than Burgermeister. Best burgers in Europe.

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