Holiday hunter gatherers

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


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.

London: I’m obsessed with food too, so when in London, Borough Market is a must. It’s rammed with artisan delights and amazing seafood. I’m crazy about homeware and Pitfield London has a plethora of vintage/contemporary treasures.

DAndrea Horan
Owner, Tropical Popical nail bar 

I never used to think I was a cosmetics lover (and certainly never thought I’d end up in the nail business) so it’s funny that two of the places I yearn for when I travel are Sephora and Kiko.

I love going into the huge Sephora on Broadway in New York and trying all the potions and lotions. I love their own-brand for day-to-day cleansing and toning which is handy as it’s not expensive. I’ll pick up a few polishes and new trend nail pieces too for Tropical Popical when I’m in there.

Once I’m finished, I usually bop up to Flight Club ( to see what trainers they have. They have loads of limited editions and I was beyond joyful when I was lucky enough to get the Liquid Gold Air Max last time I was there. I nearly cried with joy.

Closer to home, when I’m anywhere in Europe (last time it was Rome) I’ll pop into Kiko, spend €100 and come out with enough fashion polishes and lipsticks to last a year. They have an unreal selection of colours and the pigments in them are suberb. I can’t rave about it enough. And while I’m at it, I’ll grab a bottle of Meloncello. People always think I mean Limoncello but the melon version is beyond deliziosa.

HKirstie McDermott
Frillseeker and deputy editor of Stellar

London: I’ve got a mild obsession with & Other Stories and yes, I know we can now shop online but there’s really nothing like being able to get into the Regent Street store for a proper nosey. As my other half is a Londoner, I get over often, and I usually arrange for a sneaky side trip. It’s the accessories I love most, shoes, bags and jewellery are amazing and not crazy expensive.

Another stop I always make a trip to London is to Kiko, which has a few locations in the city. This Italian beauty brand is ace, with loads of brights, regular limited editions and bits and bobs that I defy any makeup obsessive to be able to pass. The quality is good and belies the small pricepoints.

New York: I’ve made pilgrimages to Target in Brooklyn more than once. I love Target for tons of reasons: regular designer label hookups including Mulberry and Peter Pilotto and the fact that it stocks the fantastic Sonia Kashuk make up line. I’ve got brushes that cost a few dollars and are still going strong years later.

Paris: Any pharmacy in Paris will serve up good brands such as Embryolisse and Bioderma, but my vote goes to Monoprix, a sort of Dunnes-meets-Heatons chain that sells food, fashion and beauty. Some brands to look out for are Rouge Baisir lipsticks and Klorane haircare, as well as more choice in the brands we know including Nuxe, Vichy and La Roche-Posay. Forget the clothes though, they’re a snore.

Colette is one of those department stores that’s talked about reverently and it can be a bit underwhelming at first because it’s not very big. But Colette is all about the edit, and a super-exclusive one at that, so you’ll find store-created fashion and accessory editions that won’t be anywhere else. It’s got a strong menswear offer and a small, but perfectly formed beauty section which is what I usually gravitate to. Next time I’m there I’m bringing home a Byredo scent.

I can’t describe how much I love the Marc by Marc Jacobs shop at the Place du Marché Saint Honoré.

All the usual Marc by Marc bits are present, as well as his awesome special edition collection, which is basically Marc on a serious budget – depending on when you’re there, there’ll be wallets, jewellery, cheaper bags, men’s Tees and tons more – or nothing!

I bought a wallet in 2010 for €35 that’s still going strong, and the fact it’s now also stocking the make up line, which I haven’t yet tried, is just another plus. If you’re in NYC, there’s a similar shop on Bleecker street.

HKyle Cheldon Barnett
Fashion designer and NCAD student

Dubai: With my parents based in the UAE, I always visit once a year. Shopping is everything over there and with so much on offer it does get confusing at times. After you get all of the tourist attractions out of the way, the Gold Souk is a must-see.

I always tend to go just to see what’s on offer and I’ve picked up some interesting pieces over the years. Another location on my list is a place called the Dragon Mart. This emporium is so big, on my first visit it took me more than nine hours to get from one end to the other. Its sells everything and anything, from food, clothes, jewellery or even the latest technology. Anything you can think of, under one roof.

As a fashion designer, I tend to venture down to the fabric district, also known as the Satwa district. I’ve got some decent deals and the fabric selection on offer is breathtaking.

If books and magazines are your thing, a bookstore called Kinokuniya Bookstores is a must-see. It is located on the second floor in Dubai Mall and they have one of the best selections of magazines and books I have ever come across.

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi is a magical place and in my opinion it overshadows Dubai when it comes to food and art. There are three main galleries that I always drop into, Barakat Gallery, Ghaf Art Gallery and Salwa Zeidan Gallery. All three sell works from contemporary Arabic artists but also some international artwork. One thing I’ve found though, it’s a great place to meet creative minds and start networking.

But as much as I love art, the food is everything. Abu Dhabi has some amazing restaurants and my favourites are the Forge – the best steak I’ve ever had, and Indigo – in my opinion the most delicious Indian in Abu Dhabi. Nothing beats Hakkasan, for its modern take on Chinese/Japanese cuisine it is worth a visit every time.

FJacqui Quail
Beauty blogger at

A great thing to stock up on if you’re in the US are the EOS lip balms. They nourish the lips with essential oils and vitamin E and don’t contain any petroleum or other nasties. EOS balms also have a huge celebrity following. The likes of Kim Kardashian and Miley Cyrus swear by them. I picked up the Summer Fruits flavour and I don’t leave home without it.

Rollerball perfumes, a great way to try out new fragrances, are found at the counters of most American beauty shops and are small enough to pop into your handbag and carry with you. Beware if you happen to pick up a fragrance that you fall head over heels for (but isn’t easy to get your hands on at home), you may regret it. Like my Elizabeth & James Nirvana White – this is going to be on rationed.

HLorna Weightman
Stylist and blogger at

I love spending time in Milan, it’s one of my favourite cities for shopping. When I was there last year, I stumbled upon an Italian brand called Glamour in Rose that is stocked at the most amazing department store called Excelsior.

It’s always my first stop when I’m there. Glamour in Rose has a huge range of accessories, and it’s their bracelets I invest in. I love to mix them with bangles and watches I already have for a stacking effect.

The best part about the brand is that it’s really affordable.

HKate Coleman
Oculoplastic Surgeon, Suite 22 Clinic

If you want Italian and international designers such as Prada, Gucci, Armani, Valentino, Max Mara and Stella McCartney at 70 per cent discount, then Florence outlets are great.

You’ll even find some new season items intermingled too. As well as designer clothes, you’ll discover amazing Italian leather shoes, belts and bags, all at bargain prices.

I am especially fond of the discounted tailored items such as beautifully cut jackets and coats which are timeless and last forever. And they are all an easy day trip or bus ride from Florence.

[Rosa Abbott
Editorial assistant at The Gloss

I almost always hunt out vintage when travelling – it’s a cool thing to bring back from a place because it has both a personal history (reminding you of the trip) and a pre-existing history. London is great for vintage. I bought a fur coat last time I was in Brick Lane, plus a couple of silk shirts and my metallic leggings. Fur in particular is much better and cheaper in London, though maybe that’s a bit un-PC.

I also bought a pair of trainers on Inis Oirr that had been gathering dust in the gift shop since the 1980s.

A truly unique find. And the one that got away: a yellow vintage Dior jacket spotted in Venice that I still think about often and harbour heartfelt regret for not buying.

[Sarah Doyle
Fashion and lifestyle blogger at

I was in China last year and stocked up on ginseng tea, it’s great and I haven’t been able to find one that tastes as good anywhere in Ireland. It has a sherbet-sweet taste that is good when you want a treat without the guilt. What we eat and drink definitely has an effect on how we look, so I think it’s important to look after the inside too and not just rely on lotions and make up, although they are a great help too.

Kiko is a make-up brand I love so when I go to Spain I always make sure to stock up. My favourite Kiko product is the Luscious Cream lipstick – it’s a lovely consistency, great price and the packaging is fab.

DAndrea Kissane
Senior editor at

Having spent a few years in Australia, I remember how care packages from home were welcomed like Michael D at a State dinner. But now that the flip flop is on the other foot and I’m home, I love getting a parcel of my favourite products from the sunny southern hemisphere.

The Aussies do swimwear like no one else – Seafolly, Isola, Rip Curl, Mambo and Tigerlily are all favourites of mine, getting a 10/10 for fit, quality and durability.

And no delivery is complete without Lucas’ Papaw Ointment. This nourishing and soothing cult product is made from fermented Australian papayas and is my saviour salve. Just a dab of this sweetly-scented balm works on everything from chapped lips and damaged cuticles to dry and problem skin. It can even soothe cuts, minor burns and other irritations (like the bank manager when I decide to book return flights to Sydney).

And if any Antipodeans are tempted to send me a parcel, please don’t forget the double chocolate Tim Tams.


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