When shopping in Buenos Aires comes to mind, I imagine the café-lined streets of Palermo Soho, filled with trendy shops and even trendier consumers. I picture soft leather jackets, tall boots and structured handbags in all cuts and colors, framed by the grand picture windows of the poised Recoleta neighborhood. I feel the sensation of entering a buzzing Alto Palermo on a busy Saturday to comb through crowds in Zara and Maria Cher, Starbucks in hand.
Two years ago, this was my reality. With dollars still in my US bank account and the peso at a relatively good exchange rate, I steadily shopped for what I thought were good deals among the best of the best in BA. But I am sorry to say, ladies and gentlemen, a peso salary and inflation have caught up to yours truly. Long gone are the days of effortless spending and decent prices. Take a peek at any price tag at one of the main fashion players in the city, and, after you pick your jaw up off the ground, you’ll agree it’s gone too far.
So the age-old question arises, where can a girl go shopping without sacrificing the label off her back, but still have pesos to eat?
I have quickly found the answer to be outlets. This is not a new concept to any of us, whether you are a fashionista or soccer mom. But if you’re thinking mass amounts of Gap sweatshirts and noname basics in the middle of nowhere, think again.
Outlets in Buenos Aires are a different story: they are simply last-seasons’ styles, maybe a “second section” item or two and even current merchandise in some cases, all at a fraction of the price – anywhere from 30-60% less than in the malls and Palermo. Plus, they are right around the corner.
But maneuvering outlets in the less touristy barrios of Buenos Aires can be an intimidating venture, so I have compiled a bit of research to get the ball rolling.
The first area and granddaddy of them all is Av. Córdoba, comprised of a strip roughly between the 4000 and 5200 blocks. Here you can find a little bit of everything: Nike, Ayres, BenSimon, Vans, Awada, Tascani and blocks and blocks to literally shop till you drop. Wear comfortable shoes, seriously.
My personal favorite is the Aguirre district of Villa Crespo, which is open 7 days a week. Stick around the 600-900 block of Aguirre and head down Gurruchaga to find even more hidden gems. There are solid international brands like Columbia, Lacoste and RayBan, top Argentine ones such as Rapsodia, Paula Cahen d’Anvers, Akiabara, Prüne and Cardón, many a shoe store, plus a taste from global designers such as Yves Saint-Laurent y Christian Lacroix.
Keep in mind; some outlets advertise themselves as “vintage” to fit into their pretty Palermo surroundings. My advice is check them out, but realize you are still in a major shopping area that is surely going to affect the price. Palermo Vintage is around the Honduras 4700 block, and includes Prüne, Paruolo and Rapsodia.
If you’re willing to travel a bit outside of the capital, there is a group of outlets that I hear is worth the trip. Estacion Central (Av. del Libertador 3080) in Olivos is a hub for brands like Levi’s, Maria Cher, Vitamina, and QuikSilver, all yours for the taking.
Buyer Beware: Outlets can be overwhelming followed by addicting. To save you from making some of the mistakes I’ve made along the way, I’ve gathered a few of the best tips to ease you into the process. Without further ado…
Your Very Own How-to guide to Outlet Shopping in Buenos Aires.
Outlets are not the end all be all to shopping here. You can always head back to your old digs in Palermo and beyond. After all, designer boutiques are one of the Buenos Aires’ best assests. But outlets are sure to give you a little price perspective, if not change your perspective completely. Once you get the hang of things, you’ll realize outlets are what you’ve been missing in your BA shopping routine.