Six of the best boutiques in Buenos Aires


​Argentina's notoriously unstable peso has plunged to less than a quarter of its value in the past few years, making life tough for portenos, as Buenos Aires locals are known. The silver lining for visitors is that locally-made products are unusually cheap so buying up high-quality traditional goods such as silver, leather, wine and steak knives is a win for travellers and a win for locals. Maria Redondo and Silvina Frydman, who started a luxe leather label after meeting at a tannery, say Argentinian leather is famous because of the way its treated; tannins used to conserve leather fibres give it a softness that ages beautifully. Their boutique in upscale Recoleta is stocked with colourful leather bucket bags, buttery black leather trousers, fringed suede jackets and tan leather trench coats. I leave with an orange acid-wash cowskin tote bag for 8700 pesos ($215).



Martin Bustamante has driven more than 60,000 kilometres around Argentina sourcing beautiful handmade items to sell in the exquisite store he opened in 2016 in an old Palermo Soho mansion. "I think that the products find me, they are part of each kilometre, each conversation and each corner of our country," he says. There are bright textiles by Puna weavers, vintage flags, industrial lamps by city designers and olive-wood bowls from Patagonia, plus a wine shop that does tastings and a kitchen with cooking classes. It's hard not to want everything here but I settle for a delicately-painted mask of a native parrot by Pedro Ovando, an artisan from Salta, for 2000 pesos.



In Palermo Hollywood, a trendy hub for shops both good and bad, Patron stands out for its quality and sleek minimalism. Every item of jewellery, art, clothing and leather in the airy, white-walled space is made by a local designer and selected by owner Laura Patron Costas, herself a jewellery designer. Silver features heavily in the selection of contemporary jewellery while a smaller handful of ceramics, scarves and paintings are awash with pretty pastels. I forego leather bags from hip Buenos Aires brands Bastardo and Le Bas for a pair of geometric silver and bronze earrings (1500 pesos) by FV Jewel.



​Guachos, the Argentinian equivalent of American cowboys or Australian stockmen, are as integral to Argentina's cultural identity as Malbec wine and huge steaks. Arandu, a three-storey treasure trove, originally opened as a supply store for cityfolk to get horse saddles and polo equipment. It has morphed into a one-stop shop for Argentinian goods with a guacho flavour, such as alpaca ponchos and wool shawls, needlepoint belts, leather-trimmed mates (gourds used to drink traditional yerba mate tea) and slick steak knives made with deer horn by an in-house silversmith. There's a whole floor for polo gear, if you're into the national sport.




Inflation and the cost of rent has forced many designers and artisans in Buenos Aires to run labels from their home. Maria Delicia Abdala-Zolezzi, who worked in fashion in London and Paris before moving home to start her own label, is one of them. She invites customers into her apartment showroom to try on chunky knit sweaters and scarves that, in her words, "allow the raw materials to speak for themselves". She uses sustainable Patagonia merino wool, mohair, Argentine Puna llama and alpaca wool, cotton and silk straw, colouring them in earthy tones using natural dyes from native plants  such as Tara and Guayacan. Buying a made-to-measure, hand-made, organic wool sweater for about $250 seems a steal.



For the best in avante-garde Buenos Aires design, Panorama is the spot. About 20 emerging young designers are showcased at the small Palermo Chico boutique, including the fabulous Made in Chola, founded by two Argentinian and Bolivian hatmakers, who create vibrant, block-colour Andean-style felt hats that would suit everything from a casual winter day to spring races. The clothes and accessories cater to all ages, from bold silk scarves to lush knits, and the store is accented with locally-made jewellery and hand-woven accessories from indigenous communities.


Rachel Olding travelled at her own expense.