The Catalan city is an enclave of originality. Boutiques are hives of independent labels and designers, showcasing fresh fashion, original souvenirs and authentic flavours of the city and country. The merchandise is more than just beautifully crafted and considered; many of the outlets listed below have a moral compass too; a conscience and commitment to supporting local or national brands, to giving young creatives opportunities and to sustainability, eco-design and ethical manufacturing.
Divided into El Raval, El Born, El Gótico and La Barceloneta, the Ciutat Vella (aka the Old City) of Barcelona is a spiralling network of intimate narrow streets, housing the city’s local designers and boutiques. Whilst visitors can easily spend their days getting lost and making their own discoveries, we’ve compiled a list of 20 of the most unique shops in the city to help navigate your shopping trip.
Orígens Art & Design
Central to everything at Orígens are its founding principles: a belief in ecology and eco-design for sustainable and responsible consumption. Each of the speciality items that fill the shelves are crafted by local designers and artisans: basket makers, weavers, glass artists, blacksmiths, furriers, wax-workers, soap-makers… all of whom make beautiful products in a manner that conserves and respects the environment. Orígens feels like a compact exhibition space as well as a shop; it explores modern and traditional arts and crafts that showcase the possibilities that eco-design offers. The result: a modern shop with products uniquely made, telling the stories of their humble origins.
Carrer del Carme, 39, 08001
Independent concept stores are popping up all over Barcelona giving high street shoppers the option of supporting local stores rather than established fashion retailers. Opening its doors in 2014, the Trait Store carefully selects its range of shoes, accessories and clothes for both women and men. On Carrer del Parlament, which runs from El Raval to Sant Antoni both neighbourhoods are changing their reputations; Sant Antoni now rivalling Barcelona’s ever popular barrio Gracia for the title of coolest neighbourhood in the city.
On the shop floor of this urban concept store, trendy brands, including Carhartt WIP and Hershel bags, sit alongside lesser-known, but equally cool, backpacks from Sandqvist and local designers Pacifico and Two Thirds. For regular high street shoppers, visit Trait Store for a guaranteed stylish purchase and the opportunity to discover new brands to introduce to friends.
Carrer del Parlament, 28, 08015
Given the option of the perfume area of a departments store or a traditional, independent perfumery, which would you rather visit? Les Topettes easily rivals any commercial cosmetic store. Inside this elegant perfumery find fresh, exotic aromas packaged in beautifully branded bottles, the perfect buy for shoppers looking for a unique scent from Barcelona. The fragrance range also includes solid perfumes, ideal for travellers, soaps, moisturisers, beard, grooming oils… The creativity is not just bottled; a selection of artists’ prints and gifts that decorate the shop are also available to be purchased.
Joaquim Costa, 33, 08001
Small and simple, Boogie is stocked with bold, effortless wardrobe staples. The boutique favours garments from independent labels in a variety of colours and prints, rather than big brands that are on sale at many of the neighbouring shops in Ciutat Vella. Mannequins at the entrance are styled to give customers a taste of the best looks inside, where collections feature mainly women’s wear, with some men’s shirts and tops also available. The quirky style of the pieces and mid-range prices means Boogie is a competitor for both vintage stores and commercial retailers.
Plaça del Bonsuccés, 2, 08001
Since the vinyl revival, record stores haves seen a change in fortune. Opening at the start of the decade Discos Paradiso is one of the stores profiting from the sudden increase in records’ popularity. Specialising in vinyls and CDs, its selection of music includes, but is definitely not limited to, techno, house, IDM, ambient, disco, funk, soul, hip-hop, indie, rock, folk, synth-pop… the list goes on. Selling both new and second-hand material, it’s certain that there is something for almost any music lover who stumbles across this record store. Not content will only selling music, the space also acts as a venue for exhibitions and activities and the team behind the shop regularly organises music events within the city.
Carrer de Ferlandina 39, 08001
Exhibiting beautifully handcrafted gifts, the jewellery particularly stands out at Grey Street, based just off of El Raval’s busy Joaquim Costa. The shop’s stock of contemporary items features fresh illustrations and designs; these on-trend pieces mean the shop could easily be mistaken for a brand new pop-up, but it is well-established in the neighbourhood, having opened in 2012. Keeping up with new crafts and design, the selection of unique pieces are all priced reasonably making Grey Street an excellent choice for both gifts and personal purchases.
Carrer del Peu de la Creu, 25, 08001
One of the city’s most diverse and vibrant neighbourhoods, El Raval houses many of Barcelona’s vintage shops, satisfying the hipsters who are found occupying surrounding spaces at the CCCB and MACBA. One of the best for variety is Holala. The Plaza branch of the shop, and likely the largest vintage offering in the city, is located near the city’s university tapping into the student customers. Its spacious premises means that shopping here is enjoyable, forget clutter: the shop is organised smartly to ensure customers can find exactly what they’re looking for. Hangers of velvet items, printed shirts, bags or denim are spread across two levels of men’s and women’s wear, with fashion from almost every decade since the 1950s.
Plaza Castella 2, 08001
Born as an online store three years ago, Suara has grown quickly since, moving into its trendy premises on the edge of the historic Born Cultural Centre. Set up in collaboration with the Suara foundation, which re-homes abandoned cats, a percentage of all profit is donated to the organisation. As this shop is focused on helping cats, almost all products have a cat print or image incorporated on them, so a visit to Suara will satisfy a love of cats and fashion. Their brand also operates under a number of other policies: it’s against child and forced labour, it only sells ethical clothing, all of the products are made with organic materials, means of production and transport favour environmentally friendly methods, and it is committed to paying living wages.
Carrer de la Fusina, 6, 08003
As the name suggests, Studio Store combines two key purposes: it is both a shop floor and a gallery space, exhibiting designs from new artists worldwide. The store’s spaces are curated by architect Lafede, promoting collaboration, culture and art. Stocking furniture and fashion, the range is ideal for those living locally to source items for their home or for visitors to the city looking for original souvenirs.
Carrer de Comerç 17, 08003
Located in all three barrios of the Ciutat Vella, Camino’s flagship store is based in El Born. From there it grew to El Raval and El Gótico, the popularity of its fashion leading to the first store opening in Madrid, making it an easy stop-off from wherever you are based. The shop aims to support new designers and items are often the result of the collaboration with the city’s design school. Other native brands create limited edition pieces for Camino using authentic and ethically-sourced material. All of the clothes, accessories and footwear have a cool Mediterranean vibe and are made sustainably in Spain, so where better to go to for your piece of true Spanish fashion!
Carrer de la Princesa, 49 08003 Born
Carrer de d’Elisabets, 13, 08001 Raval
Carrer de Carabassa, 2, 08002 Gotico
The passion and love for design that started D-lirio remains evident in their jewellery craftsmanship today. Almost 15 years old, the brand has expanded to two shops in the city and reaches a fashionable market, recognised by international publications. The small boutique exhibits geometric necklaces, stone-set rings and bold earrings, alongside the brand’s range of bags. These handcrafted accessories are truly worth the prices and are a fashionable embellishment to outfits both day and night.
Carrer de Vidrieria, 4, 08003
Meander through the intimate streets of Born and down Carrer dels Mirallers, lined with independent boutiques that double up as workshops and studios for designers. La Tercera, found on the corner of Brosoli and Mirallers, stands out in particular. Created in the same style as many of the shops in this area, the premises also acts as a studio for Name: the in-house brand. Alongside accessory and bag designer Lubochka, these two main brands of the store are committed to local and sustainable fashion; the founding principle of the boutique is that controlled local production enables a responsible fashion. Other brands, all sourced with this commitment in mind, fill the shop with delicate jewellery, contemporary shoes and ceramic home accessories.
Carrer del Brosolí, 4 , 08003
It’s no surprise that sunglasses, a necessity in this sunny city, have a particularly competitive market here. This gives customers great choice when shopping for their ideal pair. Offering more than just a stylish brand, La Clinique specialises in vintage, designer eyewear; its high quality, original pieces date from the 1950s to the 1990s. The shop also sells other oddities: exclusive perfumes, quirky accessories and records, which feature music to accompany the decades of sunglasses on offer. This unique shoppers’ paradise is a trove of original, unexpected finds.
Carrer de Mirallers, 7 08003
Visit Papabubble to watch artisans craft sweets on the shop floor. The old-fashioned façade is the perfect home for Papabubble, where the team are committed to traditional methods and the shop window is decorated with a nostalgic nod to sweet shops of the past. Working with traditional artisanal processes the results are delicious, handmade treats. The premises are made up of a kitchen space and a storefront; those behind the counter pour, design and mould delicate candy for customers. A sweet aroma emerges from the open kitchen to the space and often convinces customers not to leave empty-handed.
Carrer Ample 28, 08002
Formatgeria La Seu
The central Formatgeria La Seu brings flavours from across the country to Barcelona; owner Katherine McLaughlin personally sources all of the shop’s unpasteurised cheeses from small independent farms. Spain’s popular sweet and nutty Manchego is offered alongside the nation’s lesser-known cheeses. It’s a selection that will dazzle any cheese lover. Katherine is native to Scotland, so visitors can forget about any language barrier when enquiring about the origins of potential purchases. Tasting platters can be arranged and the shop also sells the perfect accompaniment: Vermouth. This combination is a very satisfying taste of Spain. Alternatively, head the shop’s sister bar, Zim, located just a few doors away, to enjoy the selection of cheese and wine.
Carrer Daqueria 16, 08002
French elegance combines with the dynamic, bright creativity of Barcelona inside one of El Gótico’s most beautiful boutiques. Touring France to select the best, handmade exports to showcase, owner Marion Breton has built a designer boutique filled with both jewellery and fashion accessories. Quirky, bold and original, Chez Paulette is worth a visit whether buying souvenirs, personal gifts or simply to treat yourself.
Carrer De La Comtessa De Sobradiel 5, 08002
Local Design Market
In the heart of the commercial shopping district, head down Carrer del Pi to discover the work of local artists. The exterior of the shop is not the most distinct, so look out for the banners to ensure you don’t miss the opening in the street. Based on the ground floor, the spacious shop showcases handmade designs: bags, phone cases and everyday items, as well as prints that capture the character and quirks of Barcelona. Each unique piece is the opposite to what is found on Born’s high streets, making this is the ideal place to head for individual, personal gifts.
Carrer del Pi, 11, 08002
For 18 years, Wilde Vintage has been collecting unique sunglasses from auctions, shops, private collections and other undisclosed sources. These accessories are then designed and handcrafted locally before making their way on to the shop floor. This assemblage creates an extraordinary selection of eyewear. The store has a cool vibe to match the shapes and styles of eyewear on offer and the owners are passionate about their wares. With two locations in the city, in El Born and El Raval, Wilde is worth a visit to purchase a unique, one-of-a-kind pair of sunglasses.
Carrer de Avinyó, 21, 08002 and Joaquim Costa, 2, 08003
La Manual Alpargatera
One of the last on the list but definitely not one to miss, La Manual Alpargatera makes affordable, authentic, custom-made espadrilles, offering customers a piece of traditional Spanish style to take home with them. Once considered a cheap, throwaway piece of footwear, this espardenyeria has made the ecological footwear cool; creating traditional and modern takes on the classic espadrille at a reasonable price. Established in 1943, making it the oldest shop of its kind in the city, La Manual Alpargatera’s client list includes Penélope Cruz, Jack Nicholson, Jean-Paul Gaultier and even included Salvador Dalí.
Carrer de Avinyo, 7, 08002
On entering the busy Can Paixano, known to locals as La Xampanyeria, take the opportunity to enjoy the bar serving coupes of cava and wine, bocadillos and tapas. On the other side of the busy bar, find a deli-style counter stocking a range of wine, cava and local products to take away. Located in the heart of the Barceloneta, the neighbouring beach is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a bottle of cava.
Carrer de la Reina Cristina, 7, 08003